Kyrgyz Government Proposes Route For China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Railway

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The Torugart Pass

The Kyrgyzstan government has approved a preliminary route of the Kyrgyz section of the prospective China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan (CKU) railway.

Kyrgyz Transport and Communications Minister Erkinbek Osoyev briefed the government on the railway line’s proposed routing and construction at a working meeting this week, presenting a preliminary route that would pass through Torugart, Makmal and Jalal-Abad.


Torugart is a high altitude (3,752m) mountain pass in the Tian Shan mountain range near the border between the Naryn Region of Kyrgyzstan and China’s Xinjiang Province. It will be connected to China railways from Kashgar (Kashi) and from there to the China national railway network from the Xinjiang provincial capital, Urumqi, which is already connected by road, rail, and air and about 1,000km to the north.


Naryn is an ancient silk road fortress and the provincial capital of Naryn Province. It is Kyrgyzstan’s tenth largest city with a population of just over 41,000. It is developing as a trade hub, although remains relatively poor. However, Naryn hosts one of the University of Central Asia campuses, funded by the Aga Khan. Local traders currently predominate, mainly in animal and agricultural products. Naryn however can be expected to develop rapidly as an important cross-border hub with free trade and processing zones expected to be resident here.   


Jalal-Abad (Dzhalal-Abad) is another ancient silk road hub and serves as a gateway to Uzbekistan through the Ferghana Valley. Famous for its mineral waters and spas, the city has a population of 130,000 and is also connected by existing rail to Kök-Janggak to the north, itself an important mining area in Kyrgyzstan. From Jalal-Abad the planned railway will connect through to Uzbeki railways at the border to Namangan in Uzbekistan, 30km to the West.


Namangan is an industrial base with a population just under 500,000. It is 290km from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, and is already connected by road, rail, and air although the railway section will need upgrading to accommodate increased freight traffic.

The Kyrgyz feasibility study to support the route will be completed in December 2022.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Akylbek Japarov described the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railroad as a unique project prioritized by the national government. There are differences in opinion. Kyrgyzstan wants two drop-off stations to be built in Kyrgyzstan, while China prefers the route to be direct, without stopovers.

The China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railroad will serve as a new route for cargo transported to Eastern Europe through the Trans-Caucasian corridor and will cut the time of delivery from China and Central Asia to the EU and the Middle East by a significant margin.

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Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email or visit us at