Kazakhstan’s Almost Finished New Silk Railroad

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by Joshua Foust on 9/4/2012 · 3 comments

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?

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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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Bakhrom September 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

very interesting news, I wonder what kind of impact it will make to Kazakh-Chinese relations? More economic cooperation and trade? Thank you for interesting post 🙂

bondok September 5, 2012 at 2:10 am

off-topic: the border crossing thing does not read like a scam to me. more like some clueless backpackers thinking that they are entitled to paying less than the locals.

Note: if you do not want to pay for cross-border transportation, then find yourself a pedestrian border crossing.

yoh September 19, 2012 at 3:26 am

Has railway route to west eu through Ukraine instead OF russia?

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