DUSHANBE, October 26, Asia-Plus -- Tajikistan’s Railways seeks investors for the purchase of 2,000 train cars, both passenger carriages and cargo cars, Vladimir Sobkalov, the deputy head of Tajik Railways, remarked at a news conference in Dushanbe on October 25.

”At present the price of a cargo car fluctuates from US $52,000 to US $57,000,” said Sobkalov, “And the prices of compartment and reserved-seat carriages are US $780,000 and US $320,000 respectively.”  Tajik Railways is not able to purchase them and therefore seeks investors, according to the railway official. ”Over the first nine months of this year, the Tajik rail company could afford to purchase only four cargo carriages.” 

Sobkalov noted that in January-September 2006, 10.048 tons of cargo were shipped by the railway, which is 10.2 percent more than in the same period last year. Over the same nine-month period, the Tajik railways carried 539,000 passengers, 41,400 more than in January-September 2005. 

The railway official claimed that passenger transportation has become unprofitable. ”In August, we lowered passenger fares for long-distance trains on average by 90-100 somonis, depending on the type of carriage,” said Sobkalov, “In the last nine months, expenses on long-distance routes amounted to 38.3 million somonis, while revenues amounted to slightly more than 27 million somonis.” 

At present Tajik Railways offers three routes to the Russian Federation (Dushanbe-Moscow, Kulob-Moscow, Khujand-Saratov) and four domestic routes (Dushanbe-Konibodom, Qurghon Teppa-Konibodom, Dushanbe-Pakhtaobod and Qurghon Teppa-Kulob).

Another serious problem facing the rail company is its debts to foreign rail companies. Sobkalov said that Tajik Railway’s debt to Russia is US $4.4 million, to Kazakhstan US $1.1 million, to Turkmenistan US $400,000 and to other countries US $1.2 million. 

Tajikistan’s rolling-stock includes 1,766 cargo cars, 314 passenger carriages and 57 diesel locomotives. Over the first three quarters of this year, the railway has repaired 57 passenger carriages at a cost of US $8.2 million and 52 cargo cars for US $242,000. All the train cars were repaired at the Tashkent carriage-building works in Uzbekistan. ”After repairs these train cars can serve another 8 to 10 years,” Sobkalov said. 

The total length of rails in Tajikistan is 950 kilometers; of that, 680 kilometers are the main railways.  At present there are 31 railway stations in the republic. 10,000 people work for Tajik Railways at an average monthly wage of 298 somonis.