Bad Weather, Highway Closures Cause Rail Travel Spike During New Year’s Holiday

ASTANA – Bad weather and the closure of major highways during the peak New Year’s holiday caused a surge in rail travel.

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More than a million passengers were carried on the nation’s railway systems during the New Year holidays, including 100,000 passengers traveling from Astana. Six additional passenger trains were put into service and more than 500 additional cars were added to passenger trains. In the northern region, 70-80 cars were added.

The increased rail travel followed bad weather conditions which caused squally wind, icy roads and almost zero visibility due to snowstorms. The Astana-Kokshetau, Astana-Karagandy highways were closed.

Among the holiday rail travelers were Arailym Askarbekova, her husband and two-year-old son who were traveling from Kostanai to Taraz to visit relatives. However, Askarbekova went into labour as the train pulled into the Astana station. The train’s conductor and staff immediately called for assistance. Medical personnel arrived and Askarbekova successfully gave birth en route to a local perinatal centre.

In 2016, more than 20 million passengers travelled by train in Kazakhstan. National rail carrier Kazakhstan Temir Zholy trains its staff in communication ethics, speech culture, standards of service and the ability to manage emergency situations, including first aid.

In other Kazakh railway news, a subsidiary of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, KTZ Express, recently launched the first refrigerator container train on the Herne (Germany) – Lanzhou (China) route jointly with RTSB GmbH, Belintertrans-Germany GmbH and Euro-BRICS.

The train consists of 40 refrigerator containers with perishable products. Elite wine producers from France were the first customers. The train left the city of Herne Dec. 27 and arrived at the Iletsk station in Uralsk, Kazakhstan, Jan. 5.

This cargo route normally requires 45 days by sea. The use of rail is expected to cut that travel time and boost the volume of transportation of goods requiring special temperature conditions. This is expected to increase transit traffic from China to Europe through Kazakhstan.

KTZ Express operates its own fleet of specialised containers with a climate regime ranging from –25°C to +25°C. The fleet comprises 430 units and offers all-season services of delivery of cargos requiring special temperature conditions around the world.