The Kamchiq Rail Tunnel, a key project of the Belt and Road Initiative, was inaugurated on 20 June 2016 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Uzbek President Islam Karimov. The railway tunnel in Uzbekistan is 19km long. The heads of state watched the opening via a video link.
The Kamchiq Rail tunnel is part of a railway line linking Tashkent to Namangan. It passes beneath the Qurama Mountains. It is the longest railway tunnel of its kind in Central Asia. The tunnel was constructed by China Railway Tunnel Group. Construction began in September 2013. The tunnel passes through seven geological faults. Conditions in the region are hazardous due to winter conditions. Construction of the project had to be paused in January 2014 due to an avalanche which covered the entrance of the tunnel with nearly 80m of snow. Excavation works were completed on 27 February 2016.
At the ceremony, President Xi Jinping stressed that land transport is a key element of the Belt and Road Initiative and a fundamental part of the cooperation between China and Uzbekistan. President Islam Karimov said that the project will bring benefits to the people of Uzbekistan, and stated his gratitude for China’s assistance.
The tunnel forms part of the Angren-Pap railway line in eastern Uzbekistan, which is a 129km long electrified line linking the east of Uzbekistan with the capital. It is estimated that the line will save around $25 million annually in transit fees to Tajikistan, as the new railway line will enable Uzbek trains to no longer cut through Tajikistan territory. The whole project was constructed for an estimated $1.9 billion. Construction began in 2013. China Railway Tunnel Group’s portion of the works cost an estimated $455 million. The project was financed in part by Export-Import Bank of China. Uzbek Railways undertook the construction of the mainline and the electrification works.
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