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Transport in Kazakhstan

The direct flight from London takes eight hours - four hours to cross Europe, and another four to cross the country itself.

In Search of Kazakhstan by Christopher Robbins

The vast territory of Kazakhstan, 2.7 million km2, low population density, dissociation centers of industry and agriculture, and the remoteness from world markets, makes the possession of advanced transportation system vital for Kazakhstan.

Entering Kazakhstan - As long as you have your visa organised, you should have no problems getting into Kazakhstan. Keep the migration card you receive in your passport: you have to hand it in when you leave the country. What you must pay special attention to is registration.

Bus, Marshrutka, Minibus & Taxi - Bus services are reasonably good. Many intercity buses are second-hand European coaches still in their original livery. Though they’re slow compared to other road traffic, buses are generally a little faster than trains, and usually more frequent.  For trips of more than five or six hours trains are usually more comfortable. For many trips of up to four or five hours, assorted marshrutkas, minibuses and shared taxis offer a faster alternative to buses. They’re generally found waiting outside bus and train stations. Marshrutkas and minibuses (often the same thing these days) usually cost a little more than buses; shared taxis are double or triple. If other passengers fail to materialise for a shared taxi, you may be invited to pay for the whole vehicle yourself. The full fare is normally four times the per-person fare, but you may be able to bargain that down.

Car & Motorcycle - Traffic police and bad roads (in that order) are the main hazards of driving in Kazakhstan. Main intercity roads are mostly in good condition but often have bad, potholed stretches. Traffic police can stop motorists just to check their papers. Go very slowly past any parked police vehicle or police observation post.

Trains - serve all cities and many smaller places. They’re a good way to meet people and get a feel for the country’s terrain and vast size: it takes more than two days to cross the country from Almaty to Aktobe. Except for small local trains, tickets are best bought in advance.

Railways - Total: Transportation by rail in Kazakhstan is very important. Kazakhstan Railways provide 68% of all cargo and passenger traffic to over 57% of the country. 15,079 km in common carrier service, excluding industrial lines. Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZ) is the national railway company. As the Kazakhstani rail system was designed during the Soviet era rail routes were designed ignoring intersoviet borders and to the needs of Soviet planning. This has caused anamolies such as the route from Uralsk to Aktobe briefly now passing through Russian territory. It also means routes might not now suit modern day Kazakhstani needs. Railway links with adjacent countries - Russia - same gauge (former Soviet Union railway system), China - break of gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5/6 in)/1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1/2 in); border station at Druzhba, KZ - Alashankou, CN, connects to the Lanxin railway, Kyrgyzstan - same gauge (former Soviet Union railway system), Uzbekistan - same gauge (former Soviet Union railway system), Turkmenistan - same gauge (former Soviet Union railway system) (No direct link, passing through Uzbekistan, but proposed railway will pass throgh Turkmenistan and link Kazakhstan to Iran. The strategy of transport development in Kazakhstan until 2015 will be built 1600 km of new electrified and 2700 km of existing railway stations.

Highways -Total: 189,000 km\117,445 mi (2002), Paved: 108,100 km\67,173 mi(2002), Unpaved: 80,900 km/50,272;mi(2002). It is stated that Kazakhstan has a total road network of 93,612 km which is made up of: paved: 84,100 km and unpaved: 9,512 km. As of May 2011 in Kazakhstan there were 3,264,400 registered cars. Kazakhstan has a road network stretching over 96,000 km, most of which is in need of modernization and repair. 5 international road routes passes from Kazakhstan, totaling 23,000 kilometers.  In 2009 the country commenced the construction of the "Western Europe - Western China" highway, which will be completed by 2013. The total length of the road will be 8445 km, of which 2,787 km will be in Kazakhstan, (Aktobe, Kyzylorda, South Kazakhstan, Zhambyl and Almaty oblasts). The thickness of the asphalt and concrete pavement will be 80 cm, and the expected lifespan of the highway will be 25 years, without a major overhaul, and the maximum speed limit 120 km/h. The project includes a number of road bridges over rivers, road maintenance facilities, bus stop areas, avtopavilony, cattle trails, and electronic signage. Simultaneously with the construction of this highway roads will be repaired and built in areas along its route.

Airports - Kazakhstan has a total of 97 airports (2012) However, it is quoted as having a total of 449 airports in (2001). The large area of the country and the associated long distances makes air travel a very important component in domestic travel. The biggest and busiest airports are at Almaty ( and Astana (

Airlines - Air Astana is the most popular Kazakhstani Air operator. Air Astana is the principal airline and the flag carrier of the Republic of Kazakhstan, based in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It operates scheduled domestic and international services on 56 routes from its main hub, Almaty International Airport, and from its 2 secondary hubs, Astana International Airport and Atyrau Airport. It is a joint venture between Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna (51%), and BAE Systems PLC (49%). It was incorporated in October 2001 and started commercial flights on 15 May 2002. At the 2012 World Airline Awards held at Farnborough Airshow in the UK, Air Astana was named the Best Airline in Central Asia & India.

Destinations - Air Astana operates the following destinations (as of April 2009): Domestic (Kazakhstan) - Aktau (Aktau Airport), Aktobe (Aktobe Airport), Almaty (Almaty International Airport), Astana (Astana International Airport), Atyrau (Atyrau Airport), Karaganda (Sary-Arka Airport), Kostanay (Kostanay Airport), Kyzylorda (Kyzylorda Airport), Oral (Oral Ak Zhol Airport), Oskemen (Oskemen Airport), Pavlodar (Pavlodar Airport), Petropavl (Petropavl Airport), Semey (Semey Airport), Shymkent (Shymkent International Airport), Zhezkazgan (Zhezkazgan Airport)

Asia - China Beijing (Beijing Capital International Airport), Urumqi (Urumqi Diwopu International Airport), India Delhi (Indira Gandhi International Airport), Kyrgyzstan Bishkek (Manas International Airport), South Korea Seoul (Incheon International Airport), Thailand Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport), Uzbekistan Tashkent (Tashkent International airport), United Arab Emirates Dubai (Dubai International Airport), Malaysia Kuala Lumpur (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)

Europe - Azerbaijan Baku (Heydar Aliyev International Airport), Germany Frankfurt (Frankfurt Airport), Netherlands Amsterdam (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol), Russia Moscow (Sheremetyevo International Airport), Novosibirsk (Tolmachevo Airport), Turkey Antalya (Antalya Airport),Istanbul (Ataturk International Airport), United Kingdom London (London Heathrow Airport).