Uzbeks flaunt Central Asia's 1st high-speed train

Uzbeks flaunt Central Asia`s 1st high-speed train Tashkent: The Central Asian state of Uzbekistan on Tuesday showcased the region's first high-speed train which will connect the capital Tashkent with the nation's second largest city of Samarkand.

Made by the Spanish train manufacturer Talgo, the train will take passengers on the 344-kilometre journey in two hours and 10 minutes at speeds reaching 254 kilometres per hour.

Under the deal worth 38 million euros (USD 55 million) between the Uzbek state-run railway company Uzbekistan Temir Yullari and Spain's Patentes Talgo S.A. signed in 2009, the Spanish company supplied the first Talgo AVE 250 train on July 22.

The second train is expected next month.

"Thanks to the personal initiative of President Islam Karimov this project was implemented in our country and is the only of its kind in Central Asia," a deputy Prime Minister Batyr Khodjayev told journalists in the Uzbek capital Tashkent.

The line is scheduled to open in early September.

Named after Afrasiyab, the oldest part of the ancient and medieval city of Samarkand, the high-speed rail link will boost the tourism industry in Uzbekistan, which is rich in ancient history, officials hope.

Two VIP cars in the 8-car train offer passengers giant leather seats, free cold drinks, hot meals and Uzbek wine and cognac at the ticket price of USD 46 one way.

Uzbekistan upgraded its Soviet-era rail road infrastructure at the total cost of USD 116.8 million.

The Uzbek railways said with the assistance from the Asian Development Bank, it plans to open similar routes to another ancient city, Bukhara.

The train's first ride last week took officials and foreign dignitaries to the opening ceremony of the international festival of Oriental Melodies in the Silk Route city of Samarkand, Uzbekistan's second largest city.