While travelling to lake Issyk Kul, I had notice the rail track along the road. On my way back, I saw a passenger train circulating. This tickled my curiosity. What’s the railway situation in Kyrgyzstan? To find the answer, I decided to visit the station in the capital: Bishkek-2.
The station itself is a decent building. The main hall has six ticket windows, four of which where open when I visited. It was all very quiet. Hardly anyone, not much activity. I went to the only platform. No traffic. There were a few coaches parked on the secondary tracks.
Back to the main hall, I tried reading the many papers posted on the walls. All in Cyrillic, I didn’t understand much, but I could only find out about the Bishkek-Moscow train. According to the Wikipedia article on Bishkek, there are only one train to Balikchi (by the lake Issyk Kul, the train I saw) and long distance trains to Almaty, Moscow and Siberia.
I then went to the waiting room and discovered a huge railway map of the ex-USSR. Stunning. A combined map and train lover like me is in heaven in front of such a wonder. I tried to get a good picture but the light was very low, and there was no point flashing because of the covering plastic. Focussing on Kyrgyzstan, I found out why the station is so quiet. There are only two bits of railway in the country. One coming from Kazakhstan to Bishkek and ongoing to Balikchi. The other one coming from Uzbekistan and reaching Osh in the south. That’s it! It’s perfectly understandable when you know the topography of the country: 95% are mountains… Transportation in general is difficult here.
Browsing the map to the extend of Siberia and western Russia was fascinating. I could have spent hours looking at it. With the names in Cyrillic and a few close-up insets on the main cities (including Moscow), the map is big, and rich in details.
If you want a higher resolution of the map, get in contact with me!