Astana LRT

frozen, planned to be completed (as of July 2022)

General information

Name: Light Rail Construction Astana LRT(*)

Chinese name: 萨克斯坦阿斯塔纳轻轨项目

Location: Astana (51°01’47.0″N 71°27’21.8″E)

Project type: infrastructure

Owner: City Transportation Systems LLP (Astana Akimat)(*)

Main Contractor(s): China Railway International Group Co., Ltd., Beijing State-Owned Assets Management Co., Ltd.(*)

Sources of financing: China Development Bank ($1470 mln)(*).

Project Cost: $1500 mln(*)

Project Status: frozen, planned to be completed(*) (as of July 2022)


Project Overview

People call the project as a monument of Kazakhstan corruption

The Astana LRT project is a light-rail transportation system that was to become the main platform of the Astana transportation system and unite all types of public transportation (*). The project became widely known both inside and outside Kazakhstan not only because of the controversial nature of the project idea, but also because of the numerous scandals that accompanied its implementation (*). People call the project as a monument of Kazakhstan corruption(*) .

The idea of building a light rail transit (LRT) system in the country’s capital has been discussed since the 2000s. Construction of the first branch began in 2011, but the completion date was repeatedly postponed. City Transportation Systems LLP (formerly Astana LRT LLP) received $344 million from the China Development Bank. However, problems then arose with the allocation of funds(*) . As a result, the authorities rejected the loan due to the high cost of the project and repaid the loan ahead of schedule. The Anti-Corruption Service conducted an audit of LRT construction costs and uncovered a scheme of large embezzlement. The project was frozen. To date, only 15% of the construction and installation work has been completed (*) . 500 elevated LRT supports installed (*) .


Project impact

According to environmentalists, the Yesil River was divided by half and backfilled contrary to the requirements of the Water Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan

In August 2021, the Association of Practicing Environmentalists stated about the illegal filling of the Yesil River during the construction of the Astana LRT light rail transportation. According to the environmentalists, the Yesil River was halved and backfilled contrary to the requirements of the Water Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (*).

In September 2022, after an official request for a copy of the EIA materials and the conclusion of the State Environmental Expert Review for the Astana LRT project, a response was received from the Astana Department of Environmental Protection and Nature Management. The agency informed that the documentation has been destroyed as the 5-year storage period has expired.

*Photograph taken from egemen.kz