China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan have signed an agreement to push ahead with construction of a railroad linking the 3 countries that will, if completed, establish a shorter route to Europe.
This railway would be 523 kilometers long, with 213 kilometers in China, 260 kilometers in Kyrgyzstan comprising nearly 90 tunnels and then 50 kilometers in Uzbekistan. The China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (referred as CKU) Railway would shorten the route from China to Europe by 900 kilometers and cut eight days off the travel time.
The railroad will begin at Torugart, where there is an existing road crossing from China, and continue north through the settlements of Arpa and Makmal to Jalal-Abad, where it will link up with Uzbekistan’s rail network.
Makmal is the site of a goldmine operated by a Sino-Kyrgyz joint venture with majority Chinese ownership.
It is here that the gauge will switch from the 1.435-meter track used in China and Europe to the 1.520-meter track used in the former Soviet Union, The Economist reported recently.
If ever completed, the new link could continue south through Turkmenistan into Iran and onward to Turkey, the gateway to Europe.