Russia and Kazakhstan are launching a new passenger railway line today that will significantly shorten the time required to travel through five cities in the two Caspian countries.
Trains traveling the route will make stops in the Kazakhstani cities of Karaganda, Astana, Kokshetau, Petropavlovsk and Russia’s Yekaterinburg, located roughly 370 km (230 mi) north of Kazakhstan’s nearest border with Russia and in the heart of Russia.
The new Almaty-Kazan route is an extension of the already-existing Almaty-Yekaterinburg route, which runs from Almaty and through the cities of Karaganda, Astana, Kokshetau and Petropavlovsk in Kazakhstan and Ekaterinburg and Kazan in Russia.
Kazakhstan ranked number two within the first nine months of 2017 for the number of inbound visitors to Russia, after Ukraine, according to the research and data firm TurStat, with 2,670,000 trips. The new path is expected to boost trade and tourism within Russia’s interior regions, including Tatarstan, a federal subject of Russia, according to a press release issued by Kazakhstan’s embassy in Moscow.
Russia and Kazakhstan have been working to loosen restrictions on cross-border travel, particularly simplifying checkpoints and border control for trains.
By Friday morning, train №303/304 will reach Russia’s southwestern city of Kazan and complete the 62 hour journey from Kazakhstan’s former capital of Almaty.
Prior to the route opening, travelers going from Almaty to Kazan had to traverse 3,400 km (2,113 mi) over a period of four days and make stop-overs in cities including Novoaltaysk or Novosibirsk.