Kazakhstan launches construction of new rail link to China
The construction of a new 272km Bakhty-Ayagoz railway line has begun. (Photo: The Astana Times)

Kazakhstan has launched the construction of a new railway line to China that will increase trade between the two countries by an estimated 20 million tonnes. “The construction of a new 272km Bakhty-Ayagoz railway line has begun in the Abay region,” the prime minister’s press service said, emphasising the strategic importance of the project.

The initiative was launched on the orders of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev to increase Kazakhstan’s transit and transport capacity. A key feature of the project is the opening of the third border crossing with China at Bakhty-Chuguchak(Tacheng), alongside Dostyk-Alashankou and Atynkol-Khorgos.

The Bakhty-Ayagoz railway is expected to relieve pressure on the southern checkpoints, attract more transit traffic and increase throughput capacity between Kazakhstan and China from 28 to an estimated 48 million tonnes. The double-track railway is expected to be operational by 2027.

A private investor will participate in the large-scale project under the principles of public-private partnership (PPP).

The extensive construction plan includes the construction of 11 stations, 47 bridges, 23 railway overpasses, eight motorway overpasses, five pedestrian bridges and 16 observation structures. Over 500,000 units of sleepers and 36 tonnes of rails will be sourced from local manufacturers, ensuring local content of at least 85 per cent.

Prime Minister Smailov highlighted the remarkable growth of Kazakhstan’s railway sector, revealing that last year the country’s railways carried a record 245 billion tonnes/kilometre, the highest amount of goods transported in 30 years of independence.

“The high rates will be maintained in the current year, despite the geopolitical situation and infrastructure constraints,” Smailov said.

The Prime Minister also touched on other ongoing infrastructure projects aimed at expanding the railway network. According to him, the construction of a second track on the Dostyk-Moyinty section and a new railway bypassing Almaty has already begun, with plans to build more than 1,300 kilometres of railway in the country over the next three years.

Smailov stressed that the Bakhty-Ayagoz project will not only create 1,700 jobs, but will also have a positive impact on the economy of the entire Abay region and the country as a whole. He also emphasised that the project will accelerate the integration of Kazakhstan’s railway network into the global transport system.