Transportation in Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan’s topography presents great difficulties for the transport system, and the road network of 18,500 km is sparse in large parts of the country. The existing railway lines do not form a coherent network, but consist mainly of short extensions from neighboring countries into Kyrgyzstan.

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Kazakhstan

The railways, which covered 16,600 km in 2017, form the backbone of Kazakhstan’s transport network and are of great importance for raw material handling. The Turkish Sibban, which was built in the 1930’s, crosses Kazakhstan. The country’s road network covers 93 600 km (2009). Alongside a noticeable orientation towards the Russian Federation, it is also noteworthy that the infrastructure is best developed in the north. Alma-Ata has an international airport.

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Uzbekistan

According  to Countryaah, Uzbekistan has a well-developed network of roads, railways and telecommunications by Central Asian dimensions. However, it is worn and adapted to the needs of central planning. Telecommunications are lagging behind technologically and have therefore been designated as a priority area for public and foreign investment. The roads are usually paved but with neglected maintenance. This is supplemented by 4,600 km of railway with Russian gauge and some inland shipping on Syr-Darja. Tashkent has an international airport, while several of the country’s major cities have regular air services with, among others, Moscow.

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Turkmenistan

The combination of central planning (low priority for transport services) and large unpopulated areas has led to a sparse transport network. However, since independence, physical infrastructure, including transport and telecommunications, has received a large proportion of the total investment. Both road and rail networks are concentrated in the country’s eastern, southern and western parts with limited cross-links through the Karakum desert. Despite the inauguration in 1991 of the 600-km-long road Ashgabat-Tasjauz, in some cases it is dependent on connections across a neighboring country. The road network amounts to about 59,000 km, of which 4/5 are paved.

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The railways, which have the wider Russian gauge, amount to 3,000 km. Amu-Darja and the Karakum Canal are also used for local transport. Turkmenistan’s large gas and oil production has motivated the construction of pipelines, most of which are concentrated to the western part of the country. Ashgabat has an international airport.

Tajikistan

Most of the transport work, in terms of both freight and passenger transport, is carried out by vehicle traffic. The road network comprises about 27,800 km of general road of extremely varying quality and accessibility. During the 1990’s, several major road projects, carried out with Chinese and American assistance, made Tajikistan a regional transport hub.

The railways cover only 700 km (1,524 mm gauge). Given the country’s mountainous nature and, to a large extent, low population density, the conditions for rail transport within Tajikistan are poor. Instead, the rail network has been laid out with a view to linking more important cities and districts with neighboring countries. To some extent, this has been offset by a relatively well-developed domestic flight. However, high costs and difficult weather conditions in the mountainous regions, as well as increasing political turmoil and fuel shortages, have also circumvented the utility of this vehicle. Dusjanbe has an international airport.

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