Kazakhstan begins work on major rail bypass as China-Europe traffic grows

The national railway company of Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ), has begun work on a rail bypass around the commercial capital of Almaty.

(Photo: Kabelleger / David Gubler, CC BY-SA 3.0 )

The railway will run between the towns of Zhetygen and Kazybek Beka and will include laying 130km of track as well as building 13 bridges.

According to RailwayPro, the project will reduce the traffic on the Almaty hub by around 40% and cargo delivery by 24 hours.

An increase in e-commerce in recent years has driven growth in rail freight volumes, said International Rail Journal, in addition to increased traffic at the Almaty railway junction.

The line through Almaty is said to be one of two main lines that form Kazakhstan’s part of the Trans-Caspian International Transport Route, which connects the industrial eastern and central China with Europe through Turkey. 

In recent years, the route has become an increasingly important part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as European sanctions have since required freight to be diverted from Russia. 

The cost and timescale of the project has not yet been disclosed.

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