Preliminary route for China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan line on the table

Container train in Uzbekistan, source: O'ztemiryo'lkonteyner

Kyrgyzstan has proposed a route through its territory for the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway line. Plans to construct this railway line received renewed interest by the parties involved, in an effort to seek new routes from China to Central Asia and eventually Europe. The choice of route is one of the next steps to take towards realisation.

Kyrgyz Transport and Communications Minister Erkinbek Osoyev briefed the government on the railway line’s proposed routing and construction at a working meeting this week, as was reported by Chinese media. The preliminary route passes through Torugart, Makmal and Jalal-Abad.

Route through Kyrgyzstan if it was done by car (hypothetically)

The route from China

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway line connects to the Chinese railway network at Kashgar, and from there it links to Urumqi, which is already established as a railway hub on the New Silk Road.

In Kyrgyzstan, it crosses the Torugart, a high-altitude mountain pass in the Tian Shan mountain range near the border with China. This is the most difficult area for the construction of a railway line, but judging by the route proposal of the Kyrgyz government, not deemed as impossible.

Crossing to Uzbekistan

After crossing the mountain range, the railway line will pass through the region of Naryn, an area with a lot of potential to develop as a trade hub on the corridor. It is currently dominated by local traders in mainly animal and agricultural products, which could be of interest to neighbouring countries.

From Jalal-Abad the railway will connect to the railway network of Uzbekistan. It will cross the border at the Uzbek city of Namangan. Jalal-Abad too is a potential trading hub, with its mineral waters and spas.

Construction

The construction of the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway route will begin next year. The feasibility study is being prepared with the participation of three parties, the Kyrgyz president Sadyr Zhaparov said in May. The project has been on the table for twenty years, but until this spring there had been no concrete plan to realise it.

The parties involved attach great meaning to the project, especially now that tradutional routes between Europe and Asia have become less popular. The railway link between China and Uzbekistan links to Iran (via Turkmenistan) and Turkey, and eventually to Europe, especially to Southeast Europe. The route from China to Southeast Europe could be reduced up to 900 kilometres, equal to up to seven or eight days.

Also read:

Is the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway route finally happening?

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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