Tram, farewell; long live, light rail

The light rail project was a thing to be spoken in Almaty for the last decade. The poor state of the current tram infrastructure, from one side, uneasy ecology ecological situation, from the other, gave city authorities no choice: the future of public transport of Almaty has to be keep electric. That was already discussed during UITP Peer Review carried out in Almaty last December by the group of UITP experts.

The head of Passenger Transport and Highways Department of Almaty Maksut Isakhov confirmed that LRT project would start in Almaty soon. In an interview given to the site Tengrine  he explained that the city head had set the task of choosing a model that would not become a burden for the city budget. After long consultations project started. City authorities launched feasibility study adjustment to the current economic situation.Tender would determine contractor during 2017 and after that the technical points would be  finalized (decision on track width, on the route).  

City authorities had studied the experience and construction of LRT in the world and had chosen the option combining partial state funding and private investor participation. The private investment turn the project expensive, as all risks are borne by the state. The partnership of state with private investor make the project 2.5 times less expansive: according to estimates municipality would have to return to private investor 346 billion tenge, the state partial investments make itl cost 217 billion tenge, explained Mr.Isakhov.

The previous project was devided: one builds, the other buys the rolling stock, the third - operates.  The city authorities plan now to find one investor to build, to buy vehicles and to operate the system for a 30-year period.

The state will bear the risk of ridership, promising to provide a certain amount of passenger traffic. Investor would have to guarantee the construction quality. The construction of the infrastructure and rails has to be funded by 80 percent by state, and by 20 percent - by the investor. The purchase of the rolling stock and operation would be different: investor 80 percent and 20 percent - by state. The city authorities plan to launch LRT before 2021 launch of the LRT.

As a preparation for LRT project, the dismantling of the tram tracks already started in June in Almaty.

 Almaty also plans to build new metro station and enlarge the network.