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Talgo and KTZ breathe new life into Kazakhstan's railway

Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country on Earth yet has a population of just 16 million people. Economic development at the start of the 21st century increased demand for transport, but Kazakhstan's railway rolling stock was incapable of offering services that would shorten the enormous distances between the country's major population centres. The arrival of the first Talgo trains dramatically changed this situation.

Kazakhstan's railway network spans over 15,000km and uses the 1520mm Russian track gauge, a legacy of its Soviet past.  Following the country's independence, one of the government's priorities was to modernise transport infrastructure, with the railway a major focus in a country where the population is unevenly distributed.

In 2001, the national railway operator Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) commissioned Talgo to deliver a six-car tilting train to carry out a series of demonstration tests on the 1350km line between Almaty and Astana - the two most important cities in the country.  The results could not have been more telling: Talgo trains reduced the journey time by eight hours, down from the 20 hours required by even the best conventional trains at the time.  After this success, in 2003 KTZ added two newly manufactured night-service trains to its rolling stock fleet, to which a further 436 cars were added in 2010.

A specific solution for a requirement without precedent

Despite the harsh continental climate, characterised by a thermal oscillation of 90ºC , the Talgo trains proved that they are the best option for operators that need to cut travel times but are not in a position to intensively invest in improved infrastructure. Talgo's tilting technology increases speeds in curves compared with other comparable trains.

Adapted to the environment

Both trains were specially designed to improve KTZ's offer for new night-train services between Almaty and Astana, and Almaty and Shymkent. They comply with CIS standards (which means that they can also operate in other countries, in the region including Russia) and boast the most resistant HVAC equipment in the world.

Astana Express

Ever since they were commissioned, the Talgo night-trains have been offering services of the utmost quality to passengers while simultaneously reducing travel times by more than a third. Due to this, demand for railway transport has surpassed that of other competing transport means, firmly establishing it as an environmentally-friendly alternative.