High-speed rail or high speed lie? The debate over the new Afrosiyob train
Translator’s note: This post is based upon Mashrab’s original from Russian. It is not a literal translation.
Only a few weeks ago, the National information Agency (UzA) — the country’s main propaganda engine — declared the implementation of a new high-speed train:
“The chair of the national railway stock company ‘Uzbekiston Temir Yullari’ Achilbai Ramatov and others have recently stated that the large-scale reforms led by President Islam Karimov were bringing fruitful results. The national leader pays great attention to the development of transport and communications infrastructure. A high-speed train system ‘Afrosiyob’ was built within tight deadlines to connect Tashkent and Samarkand. This is the result of all-time care and attention by the state leadership and of our country’s economic advancement.
“The communication and alarm systems of the high-speed electric train were modernized, safety zones were established with concrete barriers and metal bars, and pedestrian crossings were constructed to ensure traffic safety. Additionally, Tashkent and Samarkand railway stations were renovated to improve safety and comfort of the passengers. Prior to the organization of the Afrosiyob train, a large-scale work was held to modernize the rail infrastructure along the Tashkent-Samarkand route. Rail the length of 600 km was rehabilitated, and 68 km of new railways were laid. A new double-track section with a length of over 35.3 km was built between Yangiyer and Dashtobod, as well as a 142-meter-long tunnel and four bridges with a total length of 400 meters.”
And then along came author Inomjon Sarymsakov, who recently took a ride on the train from Tashkent to Samarkand and has written an article in the Uzbekistan-based newspaper “News of Uzbekistan” that quite boldly contradicts the sunny proclamation from UzA:
“The railway is in fact not designed for a high-speed train. The new line has been laid only on the short-distance proximity of 35 kilometers between Yangiyer and Dashtabad. Add four new metal bridges for electricity transaction, railing and there you go! The rest has been left pretty much the same, while new lines are not going to be laid in the near future because of the high costs.
“[I made the trip of] 344 kilometers in two hours and 45 minutes. By doing basic calculation, I saw that the average speed was not more than 125/h. And so where is the promised high-speed technology? Although the speed had initially been declared to be 250, the highest speed reached was 220/h [which] happened only once in the whole time and lasted only for one minute. But then it caused a lot of dust and turbulence also indicating that fast and comfortable ride is simply a myth.” [Author: my emphasis]
Here’s more about the supposed speed of the train: