Kyrgyzstan Railways deny CKU line being indefinitely postponed
Kyrgyzstan Railways denied the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway is indefinitely delayed. The reaction resulted from various media outlets reporting that the highly anticipated CKU railway is postponed due to a lack of financial means. “That is not true”, Kyrgyzstan Railways said.
Specifically, some media reported the issue, explaining that problems concerning financing and regional tensions would postpone the CKU project indefinitely. Kyrgyzstan Railways rejected the allegation and said the negotiations of the construction phase of the CKU line are “in an active phase and are held on a regular basis”. CKU expert Yulin Sun agreed. “The CKU railway construction will be a priority for three countries, and I haven’t heard anything about the postponement”. Sun is the chairman of Kashgar Zhogcheng International Logistics, which operates the CKU intermodal service as the alternative to the missing rail link between the three countries.
Current CKU stage
A feasibility study was completed by July 2023, paving the way for setting up the CKU corridor. The three countries involved will discuss renewing the trilateral contracts for constructing the project in mid-October during the third International Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. The railway is especially important for the landlocked country of Kyrgyzstan. “The planning of the China-Krygystan-Uzbekistan railway, a line that could connect 4 billion people and expand the volume of goods transported, will free Kyrgyzstan from its transport bottlenecks,” said Bakyt Torobaev, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Kyrgyzstan. However, the financial plan is indeed uncertain at this stage.
Unclear financial plan
Tilek Tekebaev, Minister of Transport and Communications of Kyrgyzstan, told Kyrgyzstan media economist.kg that two financing options are on the table. The first entails a public-private partnership (PPP) investment, and the other is attracting credits or borrowings such as loans from China. Tekebaev has not disclosed which option is more favourable, and the same applies to the investment timeline. But one thing is clear: the railway line will remain a fantasy before the financing procedure is completed.