You might call it the train in vain. And it has troubling implications for a US plan to stoke East-West trade via a New Silk Road, as well as keep American and NATO troops well supplied in Afghanistan.
When it was launched in late summer, authorities boasted that a new high-speed train linking Tashkent and Samarkand symbolized Uzbekistan’s rapid modernization. But the train ran for only a couple of weeks before service was suddenly suspended without explanation. The train – named Afrosiyob in honor of a mythic king who unified Central Asia -- now stands as an embarrassing reminder of dysfunction at the state railway company.
The country’s civilian railway system features about 4,500 kilometers of track, making it, in theory, an ideal bridge connecting Asia and Europe. Drawing on its Soviet-era status as Central Asia’s transit hub, Uzbek officials still like to believe that all railroads go through Tashkent. And authorities in Tashkent likewise are said to be proponents of the New Silk Road concept.
To read the full story