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The Proposed Kuragino-Kyzyl Railway Could Extend To Western China

The delayed Kuragino-Kyzyl railway line, which is planned to run from Krasnoyarsk Krai to Tuva in south-eastern Russia, close to the border with Mongolia, has been proposed to be constructed and now extended to Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang Province. The announcement was made by Vladislav Khovalyg, the head of the Republic of Tuva, at the XI International Siberian Transport Forum.

Investments in the project will approximately amount to about ₽1 trillion (US$11.3 billion). The railway will be able to handle up to 40 million tonnes of cargo per year.

Khovalyg said “Today at the meeting of the Coordinating Council of the Interregional Association of Economic Cooperation of the Subjects of Russia Siberian Agreement on transport, we will also talk about the expansion of the Kuragino-Kyzyl railway project to the Chinese city of Urumqi. The project is very promising within the framework of the development of the Central Eurasian Transport Corridor, the creation of which was proposed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The expansion of the line will create 40,000 new jobs.”

The original planned construction of the Kuragino-Kyzyl line, which was planned to be the first railway in Tuva, began back in 2011. However, only about 1 km of tracks were laid, after which the project stopped due to lack of funding. The total length of the railway was to be 411 km.

In 2018, a concession agreement was signed between TEPC Kyzyl-Kuragino and Roszheldor to continue construction, but in April 2021, the project was again postponed.

However, the regional governments of Tuva and Krasnoyarsk have appealed to Moscow to once again begin the construction of the railway. There are new grounds for the implementation of the project. It was initially envisaged that the railway would mainly service the development of the Elegest coal deposit. Now it is planned to extend it via Mongolia at Tsagan-Tolgoi, to China. It would be linked with the North Siberian Railway, the construction possibilities of which were commissioned by Russian President Vladimir Putin in October last year.

In March of this year, it was reported that both the North Siberian Railway and Kuragino-Kyzyl Railway had received a preliminary assessment concerning the feasibility of construction. The Russian Investment Fund is believed to be involved in financing the project should it go ahead.

The railway would provide direct access to markets in China for Siberian goods, and vice versa.

Urumqi is the largest city in Central Asia and is also linked to China’s national rail network as well as to Kazakhstan. Kurugino is planned to be linked to the North Siberian Railway which in turn would extend deep into the heart of Siberia and intersect with the Trans-Siberian Railway which bisects Russia from Moscow to Vladivostok.  

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