The Zhetygen-Korgas railway through southern Kazakhstan, which links Almaty to the Chinese city of Hocheng along the Korgas River in the Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang, is almost open. Over the weekend, a test train traveled from Almaty to the border with China, supposedly heralding a new era of commerce now that there are two Sino-Kazakh railway crossings!
It’s part of a big Kazakh project to create land routes through its territory. There are a lot of land transportation projects happening through Kazakhstan, supported by China, the EU, and even the US. They all use various references to the Silk Road.
Surprisingly, the Zhetygen-Korgas railway press releases don’t seem to use as many… even though Korgas was a major hub of the Northern Route back in the day. Korgas is kind of infamous among backpackers for running a border crossing scam; maybe having a legitimate rail connection will reduce the border guard corruption and allow for more normal transit.
The railway has garnered a lot of interest. As it was being constructed, the Zhetygen-Korgas was supposed to open last December. As recently as last September, Kazakh officials were promising it would be open by the end of last year.
Oh well. A nine-month delay isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things. We’ll see how well this one holds up, yeah?