The Kyrgyz railway network consists of two lines, built to Russian standard gauge (1520mm) during the Soviet era. The more northerly of these lines enters the country from Kazakhstan and runs via Bishkek to Balykchy on the shores of the Issyk-Kul (Warm Lake), a distance of about 250km. The much shorter southern line enters from Uzbekistan and serves the city of Osh, with branches to Jalal-Abad and Kyzyl-Kiya.
Local passenger train services operate from Bishkek to Kar-Balta and Tokmok. International services operate from Bishkek to various destinations in Kazakhstan and Russia. A summer only service operates through the spectacular mountain scenery between Bishkek and Balykchy; one weekly service during the season connects Balychky with Toshkent in Uzbekistan. No passenger services operate on the southern line.
In 2022, work began on a 186km extension of the northern line from Balykchy to Karakeche.
Also in 2022, a feasibility study was initiated for a new standard gauge line from a connection with the Chinese rail network at Kashgar, China, via Erkeshtam and Osh to Andijon, Uzbekistan. The section from Osh to Andijon would parallel or replace the existing 1520mm gauge line. About 260km of the new line would be in Kyrgyzstan.
© 2005-2022 Glyn Williams
Photo image by Thomas Depenbusch (Depi) from Wikimedia Commons