Karakalpakstan Transport Network

Karakalpakstan Transport Network
Contents
Formation Population Geography Natural Resources Economy Government Health & Education Transport The Aral Sea Due to its isolated and landlocked geographical location, transport links are a vital component of Karakalpakstan's economy. The populated regions located around the banks and irrigation network of the lower Amu Darya are surrounded on all sides by desert - the Ustyurt plateau in the west, the Q•z•l Qum desert in the east, the Qara Qum desert to the south and the newly formed Aral Qum, left behind by the retreating Aral Sea, in the north, Introduction Road Network River Crossings Rail Network Air Links River Transport Aral Sea Shipping References

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The Karakalpak Autonomous Republic mostly consists of uninhabited wilderness. Image courtesy of MODIS Rapid Response System at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre, 2003.

In the past the main route into the Khorezm oasis was from the south-east along the valley of the Amu Darya. One route followed the southern bank from Amul (modern Turkmenabat) while two other routes went via Bukhara, one passing straight through the Q•z•l Qum to Kath, the other passing closer to the Amu Darya via the Rabats of Tugan and Mash. However the region was also linked by means of a multitude of other desert caravan routes, each supported by intermittent manmade wells and watering holes and throughout the past millennium by numerous caravanserais where travellers could rest themselves and their animals overnight. One route from north-east Iran and the southern Caspian followed the route of the Uzboy River to Gurganj (Kunya Urgench). Another crossed the Ustyurt from the Volga region of south-eastern Russia, while another ran south from southern Siberia down the valley of the Turgay and the eastern edge of the Ustyurt, following the shoreline of the Aral Sea. In the east there were routes running through the Q•z•l Qum, the main one following the channel of the Jan'a Darya (from Bartigkent on the other side of the Syr Darya from modern Qizil Orda). This was linked to a route running along the southern bank of the Syr Darya from the former oasis of Otrar. From the south one route ran directly north from Merv up to the Amu Darya and then followed its left bank via Dargan, Sadvar, and Hazarasp to reach Gurganj, while another went directly north from Nishapur to Nisa and thence to Gurganj. Some of these ancient routes are still used today. For example the main rail and road link to Russia follows the old caravan route across the Ustyurt to Beyneu and Saratov, while the primary land link from eastern Uzbekistan still follows one of the caravan routes from Bukhara and the valley of the lower Amu Darya. Most imports to and exports from Karakalpakstan are shipped by rail rather than road. Many of Karakalpakstan's exports tend to be bulky items: marble, stone, building materials, soda ash, and raw cotton. Most imports relate to industrial equipment and piping for the natural gas extraction industry. Visitors are frequently surprised about the relatively small amount of road freight passing between Karakalpakstan and the rest of Uzbekistan.

Road Network
For a small country Karakalpakstan has a well-developed road network, a legacy of former Soviet rule. No'kis is connected to the rest of Uzbekistan by the A380 trunk road, which passes from Karshi to Bukhara and then crosses the Q•z•l Qum close to the natural gas fields at Gazli to reach the north bank of the Amu Darya at Lebap. It then follows the north bank of the Amu Darya river to cross the Karakalpakstan border just before Miskin, passing through To'rtku'l and Biruniy before skirting the southern flanks of the Sultan Uvays Dag before reaching No'kis.

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html (3 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . and trucks travelling to Central Asia from Russia. Beyond Qon'•rat the condition of the road deteriorates.karakalpak. http://www. buses.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The relatively deserted main A380 highway from Bukhara to No'kis. The A380 highway heading from No'kis to Bukhara from the air.com/stantransport. firstly into a narrow metalled road as far as Jasl•q and then into a gravel track to the border and western Kazakhstan. This route is used by a limited number of cars. From No'kis the road crosses the Amu Darya and then heads northwest to Qon'•rat.

where it divides.karakalpak. The $75 milion project is being funded by the Asian Development Bank.html (4 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . Currently two sections are planned to be widened into a four lane highway a 40km stretch in the district of Qon'•rat and a 91km stretch covering the district of Hazarasp in Khorezm viloyati and the district of To'rtku'l in Karakalpakstan. Work on upgrading the route commenced in 2002. The A380 from Qon'•rat to Bukhara is a wide two-lane highway with a relatively low traffic load.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The A380 running from Miskin to No'kis via Biruniy in southern Karakalpakstan. No'kis. one branch heading north to Qazaqdarya. another heading east to Taxta Ko'pir. and Qon'•rat.com/stantransport. http://www. Average usage in Karakalpakstan in 2007 was estimated to be less than 400 vehicles per day. Since then the route has been assessed to be internationally strategically important long-term. potentially linking southern Russia and western Kazakhstan to Tajikistan and northern Afghanistan by way of the Uzbek-Afghan Bridge of Friendship at Termez. A second major highway runs north from No'kis to Xalqabad and Sh•mbay.000 km long national highway crossing the entire country from Andijan to Tashkent. In 1999 the Council of Ministers of Uzbekistan approved a project to establish a 2.

http://www.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The road network connecting the main towns and villages of the northern delta.html (5 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . A very quiet road in the Ellikqala district of southern Karakalpakstan. Roads tend to be generally wide and straight.karakalpak.com/stantransport. The busiest time is during the cotton harvesting season. Generally the road network covering the northern delta is in a good state of repair and is relatively underused.

html (6 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . which passes through featureless desert until it reaches the outskirts of Ashgabat. The main road from Xojeli to Kunya Urgench crosses the international border but then narrows into a single lane metalled road. No'kis is also connected to Ashgabat. at the small settlemet of Darvaza.Karakalpakstan Transport Network A long and empty country road lined with jide north of Bozataw in 2004. The empty road from Qon'•rat to Moynaq in 2001.com/stantransport. River Crossings http://www. by a narrow desert road that passes through the centre of the Qara Qum. a former Soviet sulphur mine. the capital of Turkmenistan.karakalpak. There is only one main stopping point.

http://www.html (7 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . The most important bridge in Karakalpakstan provides a road link between the capital No'kis and neighbouring Xojeli. Crossing the new road bridge from No'kis to Xojeli. It was built between 1999 and 2001.karakalpak.com/stantransport. several new ones having been constructed since the collapse of the USSR. More recently the "Amudarya" combined rail and road bridge was built in 2004 further upstream from just south of To'rtku'l in Karakalpakstan to Hazarasp in the viloyat of Khorezm.Karakalpakstan Transport Network There are numerous road and rail crossings over the lower Amu Darya.

http://www. A third modern road and rail link crosses the top of the Tu'yemoy•n hydroelectric dam. To make matters worse they were inaccessible to large vehicles when river levels were especially low.com/stantransport. about 600 metres wide.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The new Amudarya combined road and rail bridge close to To'rtku'l just after its opening in 2004. built between 1981 and 1983 and linking No'kis to the neighbouring industrial and residential town of Taq•atas. Prior to the construction of these crossings. These had to be occasionally closed during the winter to allow the passage of ice down the Amu Darya. about 300 metres wide. vehicles could only cross the Amu Darya by means of primitive pontoon bridges composed of a string of connected barges held in place by cables and anchors. The decrepit pontoon bridge linking left bank Q•pshaq to right bank Bestam in 1999.karakalpak. about 360 metres wide. linking Q•pshaq to Bestam.html (8 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . and the third linking Chalish in the Khorezm viloyati to Biruniy. the second linking Jumurtaw to Qarataw (close to ancient Gyaur qala). Today there are three such pontoon bridges serving Karakalpakstan: G G G the first just north of Ma'n'g•t.

whereas the Q•pshaq and Biruniy pontoons are always busy. http://www.html (9 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .Karakalpakstan Transport Network An Uzdaewoo Nexia crossing the pontoon bridge to Q•pshaq in 2004.karakalpak.com/stantransport. The Jumurataw-Qarataw pontoon is only lightly used by local traffic. Cars leaving the Biruniy pontoon bridge on the Khorezm side in 2001.

from Jeyhun and Farab.com/stantransport. This is the last upstream crossing for 300km until the pontoon bridge in eastern Turkmenistan connecting Turkmenabat. work continues on a new road bridge designed to replace the former pontoon bridge linking Atamurat (formerly Kerki) with Kerkichi.Karakalpakstan Transport Network An almost empty Biruniy pontoon bridge in 2005. a further 200km upstream. crossing the border in the process from Gaz-Achak in Turkmenistan to Drujba in the Khorezm viloyati of Uzbekistan. It sits alongside the 1. The http://www. formerly Chardjou. The latter two crossings are poorly maintained and welding teams work almost constantly repairing the uneven surface of metal plates. Moving upstream beyond the borders of Karakalpakstan the next river crossing is located at the Drujba dam where a road runs north over the top of the dam. Welders working on the Q•pshaq pontoon bridge in 2001.html (10 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . Also in Turkmenistan.karakalpak.7km long iron railway bridge built by the Russians in 1901 to replace the former wooden railway bridge built in 1887.

No'kis and Sh•mbay were accessed by a spur from the main line at Taq•tas. From Kagan the line ran south crossing the Amu Darya at Turkmenabat (Chardjou) and then followed the left bank of the Amu Darya before reaching Urgench. which was linked to Kagan (close to Bukhara) by two branches . quiet.one passing north via Navoi and the other south via Qarshi. Dashoguz. Xojeli. During the Soviet era the railway line from Tashkent passed through Samarkand.com/stantransport. is financed by the Ukraine in return for Turkmen natural gas but has been bogged down in political wrangling since 2004. The modern railway station at No'kis. Rail Network Karakalpakstan is served by an efficient railway system that links it domesticaly to Tashkent and internationally to western and eastern Kazakhstan and Russia. It then continued north to cross the Kazakhstan border. which began in 2001/2. and Qon'•rat (Kungrad). and clean and is linked to the nearby city centre by bus and taxi.html (11 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . No'kis railway station is modern.Karakalpakstan Transport Network project.karakalpak. http://www.

Following independence rail travel between Tashkent and Urgench and No'kis was hampered by immigration and customs disputes between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Image courtesy of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.html (12 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . Following the construction of the new Amudarya rail and road brige a rail spur was added to link Miskin to the old railway line on the left bank at Hazarasp. Transport Division. http://www.karakalpak. providing access to Urgench and Shavat. skirting the southern flank of the Sultan Uvays dag to reach No'kis. To resolve the problem the Uzbek government decided to build a self-contained national rail network by constructing a new 500km long railway line across the Q•z•l Qum from Navoi to Zeravshan and Uchquduq and then south to Miskin and To'rtku'l. The line was partly built by the inmates of Uchquduq prison and was completed over a period of three years.com/stantransport.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The railway network at the time of Uzbek independance.

The two main international train routes passing through Karakalpakstan are: G No'kis to Almaty.html (13 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . via Karakalpakstan. although far less tiring and avoiding numerous road check-points. It takes 23 hours to travel from No'kis to Tashkent on the new line. via Tashkent and Saratov (on the Volga) to Tashkent. G http://www.karakalpak. This is slower than driving by road.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Schematic rail map of Karakalpakstan.com/stantransport.

com/stantransport. To'rtku'l. The Almaty train terminates in No'kis after stopping at Miskin.html (14 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . and Kaibek. http://www.karakalpak. It takes 46 hours to reach No'kis from Almaty.Karakalpakstan Transport Network The train from Tashkent to Saratov. There is also a Moscow service to Tajikistan which transits through Karakalpakstan but does not stop at any of the stations there. Image courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

karakalpak. There is also a train service between Kazakhstan and Karakalpakstan. http://www.html (15 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . Currently the only international flights to No'kis are from Moscow. Air Links Karakalpakstan is served by its own modern international airport located close to the centre of No'kis. Click here for details. Both Uzbekistan Airways and Gazpromavia operate weekly return flights from Moscow's Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports respectively.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Train schedule at No'kis Station (in Uzbek).com/stantransport. taking 12 hours to run from Qon'•rat to Beyneu and stopping at all the small stations along the way.

Karakalpakstan Transport Network No'kis International Airport. However navigation of the Amu Darya has always been a precarious venture requiring intimate knowledge of the constantly shifting sandbanks and shallows. A high-speed "hydroglisseur" service was already doing the same journey in six hours. Xojeli. Even at that time larger Russian paddle steamers were working the river. In 1933 the intrepid Swiss traveller Ella Maillart travelled down the same stretch of river on a paddle steamer called the "Pelican". Dashoguz airport in neighbouring Turkmenistan provides frequent connections to Ashgabat. and Xojeli and returned via Hazarasp and Petro-Aleksandrovsk.com/stantransport. one flying from Tashkent and back in the morning and another following the same route in the evening. Colonel Le Messurier observed in 1887 that two fast and armed steamboats were nearing completion at Chardjou. and Qon'•rat. from where she planned to cross the Aral Sea to Aralsk before the service was suspended in http://www. In 1899 Ole Olufsen sailed downstream from Chardjou in a wooden qay•q with a single square sail crewed by a dozen Turkmen. seven days a week. New Urgench. A small boat took her further downstream where she took an arba (wooden cart) to New Urgench and Khiva. There is also a weekly return flight from No'kis to Ferghana.and on to Q•pchaq.which provided access to Khiva by canal . In the 19th century passenger and cargo vessels sailed downstream from Chardjou (modern Turkmenabat) to Khanqa . Bales of Khorezmian cotton were being ferried upriver on square-sailed qay•qs. Boats returned under sail or were physically hauled back upstream by teams of barge haulers. River Transport In the past the Amu Darya provided a major transport route into and out of the region.karakalpak. Nearby Urgench International Airport also has a weekly flight to Moscow served by Sibir Airlines. along with two barges. taking six days to reach To'rtku'l. navigating between sandbanks and islands. Back on the Amu Darya she caught the "Lastotchka" steamer to the port of "Kant Uzak" in the northern delta. He visited Khiva.html (16 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . No'kis is connected to Tashkent by means of two domestic flights a day. having been transported there in parts by rail.

karakalpak.html (17 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .com/stantransport. had sailed the day before. http://www. the "Commune".Karakalpakstan Transport Network late November. When she arrived at the large river port at Xojeli she discovered that the port on the Aral was already closed – the last boat of the season.

Karakalpakstan Transport Network Qay•qs on the Amu Darya.karakalpak. During the Soviet era long distance river travel became restricted by the construction of numerous permanent pontoon bridges and in the early 1980s by the construction of the Tu'yemoy•n hydroelectric dam. Images courtesy of the Regional Studies Museum. The majority of working boats on the river today are associated with the management and maintainance of the remaining pontoon bridges.com/stantransport.html (18 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . No'kis. probably 1930s. http://www.

Karakalpakstan Transport Network An assortment of working boats on the Amu Darya in Karakalpakstan.html (19 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .karakalpak. Sadly navigation on the Amu Darya downstream from the Tu'yemoy•n dam is almost impossible http://www.com/stantransport.

http://www. Very low water levels in the Amu Darya to the south east of No'kis. Turkmenistan.karakalpak.Karakalpakstan Transport Network today as a result of much lower river levels. offering local people the chance to dine "chaikana-style" while they cruise down the river. and Karakalpakstan.com/stantransport. The waters of the once mighty Amu Darya have been syphoned off to irrigate the cotton and rice fields of Uzbekistan. In recent years the stretch of the Amu Darya that separates Khorezm from southern Karakalpakstan has seen the emergence of a new commercial phenomenon .the introduction of a small pleasure boat service.html (20 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .

The "Perovsky" was launched at Fort Raim on the Syr Darya in 1853. In 1850 the Russians ordered the construction of two new boats from a Swedish shipyard – the "Perovsky". a twelve horsepower propeller-driven iron barque.com/stantransport. and they became restricted to surveying the island of Kozaral in the mouth of the Syr Darya estuary and the other islands down the eastern coast of the Aral Sea.headquartered at http://www. Both steam boats required huge quantities of saxaul to fire their boilers and on one occasion 180 tons of anthracite was especially transported overland from the River Don at enormous cost! As the Russians increased their stranglehold on Central Asia the Aral Flotilla . The main centre for these cruises is just south of the pontoon bridge at Q•pshaq. The Russian envoy Dmitry Gladyshev and his military surveyor Ivan Muravin visited the "lower" Karakalpaks near the mouth of the Syr Darya in 1740 and reported that they were able to sail from there to the mouth of the Amu Darya using six metre long wooden boats with a single small sail. In a whole season it could only make three round trips between Fort Kazalinsk and Fort Perovsky. However it was the Russians who launched the first large industrially manufactured ships onto the Aral Sea. However it proved to be too large for navigating the more difficult parts of the Syr Darya and was continually running aground. the warship "Nikolay" and the merchant ship "Mikhail".html (21 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . and the "Obrutchef". the "Konstantin". both constructed in Orenburg in 1847.karakalpak. and was armed with three nine-pound guns. Aral Sea Shipping During the 18th and 19th centuries the Karakalpaks were able to navigate the east coast waters of the Aral Sea. two years ahead of the "Obrutchef". but neither were capable of safely venturing far into the Aral Sea with its perilous shallows. Soon a somewhat larger schooner. The initial fleet of the so-called Aral Flotilla consisted of two twin-masted schooners. a forty horsepower paddle-wheel steamboat. The first was designed for surveying and the second for establishing a fishery.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Pleasure boats on the Amu Darya at Q•pshaq. was built in Orenburg and was used by Lieutenant Aleksey Butakov to undertake the first complete survey of the Aral Sea in 1848 and 1849.

http://www. and its extension to Tashkent in 1906.was expanded further. making it possible to reach Khiva from Orenburg by carriage and boat without the perilous crossing of the Ustyurt. and many barges including three that were schooner-rigged. and "Tashkent". partly due to the poor quality of their final construction. goods could now be transported by rail to Aralsk and then shipped across the Aral Sea to Khorezm. Between 1933 and 1941 Moynaq developed into a major fishing centre supported by up to 113 fishing vessels working the Aral Sea. Qay•qs at the port of Moynaq. No'kis. carried across the steppes by camel – an incredible feat of transportation – and then finally assembled as boats at Kazalinsk. The later "Samarkand" was built in Belgium in 1866 and the more recent "Tashkent" made in Russia in 1870. both armed with nine-pound guns.html (22 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . probably photographed in the 1930s.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Kazalinsk . The full commercial exploitation of the Aral Sea occurred during the Soviet era. Image courtesy of the Savitsky Museum.karakalpak. By the eve of the invasion of Khiva in 1873 the fleet consisted of three side-wheel paddle steamers. the "Perovsky". Unfortunately the service could not operate during the winter because the northern Aral Sea became ice bound. two stern-wheel steamers. the "Aral" and the "Syr Darya". Both Aralsk and Xojeli began to develop into shipbuilding centres to provide vessels for this new Aral Sea route. The individual parts were shipped to Orenburg. "Samarkand".com/stantransport. Nearby U'shsay became the main commercial port for the transport of cargos to and from the port of Aralsk in Kazakhstan. With the construction of a new railway line from Orenburg to Aralsk in about 1900. However they turned out to be less satisfactory than the earlier steamboats. After the Russian conquest in 1873 the Russian paddle steamer "Perovsky" could ferry passengers from Kazalinsk to the Amu Darya across the Aral Sea. a steam launch. The two stern-wheelers were flatbottomed and were constructed by the Hamilton Works in Liverpool in 1861.

from 1960 onwards the level of the Aral Sea began to fall.com/stantransport. Some of the first people to recognize the problem were the Aral fishermen. Image courtesy of the Regional Studies Museum. No'kis.html (23 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .karakalpak. However the relentless development of the Uzbek cotton industry meant that less and less water was draining into the Aral Sea. Boats at the port of U'shsay at some time prior to 1967.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Painting of the old cargo port at U'shsay by F. who noticed the level of the highest tide falling relentlessly from 1964 onwards. The development of the Qara Qum Canal in the 1950s was the final straw . Madgazin. Soon http://www. At first the decline was small because of compensation from the draining of the lakes within the delta and releases from the surrounding water table.

It was an impossible battle and eventually the ferry service was terminated and the bigger fishing boats were left stranded on the dried-up seabed. The "Karakalpakia" repainted for a movie by a visiting film crew.html (24 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . But in time this also began to run dry and channels had to be cut to allow the boats to reach the Sea. At first the fishermen were forced to relocate their boats from the fishing port to the cargo port at U'shsay.karakalpak. U'shsay and Aralsk are only a fraction of the original fleet.com/stantransport. http://www. many of which were subsequently dismantled for scrap. Skeleton of a small boat at the Ship's Graveyard near Moynaq. The rusting hulks that remain today in the so-called "ships' graveyards" at Moynaq.Karakalpakstan Transport Network the port at Moynaq began to dry up and Toqmaq Ata Island gradually became connected to the mainland.

Today the Aral Sea has almost gone . measuring over 160km from north to south. The empty Aral Sea. http://www.all that remains currently are a handful of large lakes.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Rusting hulk on the former bed of the Aral Sea. The small town of U'shsay that was once home to one thousand fishing families had lost its livelihood and would gradually decay into the ghost town that remains today. By 1970 the shoreline had receded by about 10 km. leaving the community of Moynaq stranded and its former fishermen unemployed.karakalpak.html (25 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 . devoid of a single ship.com/stantransport. However the western basin is still a substantial size.

Unless stated otherwise. devoid of a single floating vessel of any kind. Asian Development Bank. 1942. Uzbekistan [in Russian]. Tashbaeva.100. Elibron Classics. G P Putnam's Sons. F. Kh. Return to top of page Home Page This page was first published on 15 May 2009. M.000. Muminov. Vienna.. M. E. Anon. Sharq Publishers.. Turkestan Solo.. 1935. Baipakov.. Buryakov. Anon. Tashkent. The Aral Sea shipping route is no more. and Dosumov. 1:1. To travel from No'kis to Kazalinsk or Aralsk it is now necessary to go by train or air via Tashkent and Almaty. Olufsen. http://www. Uzbekistan Today..karakalpak. which uses the correct transliteration. M. O. translated by John Rodker.Karakalpakstan Transport Network Yet without any port of access it remains eerily silent.. K. Central Asia. Tashkent.2014. Scale 1. Road Map. and Yakubov. K. 1998. Maillart.000. Volume 2. 1999. References Anon. Fan Publishing. Freytag and Berndt. Revised in 1989.. facsimile of 1911 edition. all of the material on this website is the copyright of David and Sue Richardson.. Tashkent. Y. Y.. It was last updated on 1 March 2012. © David and Sue Richardson 2005 . Nurmukhamedov. The Emir of Bukhara and his Country.html (26 of 26)02/03/2014 19:35:38 .. Y.qaraqalpaq.com. Karakalpak. rather than the Russian transliteration. May 2008. M. 2002.. Anon. New York. Moscow. 1986. International Institute for Central Asian Studies. I. The Cities and Routes of the Great Silk Road. Republic of Uzbekistan: CAREC Regional Road Project. History of the Karakalpak ASSR. Qaraqalpaq. 5 January 2007..com/stantransport. Visit our sister site www. Soviet Topographical Military Map Series.. K. Roskartographia.750.

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