Uzbekistan capital’s tramway succumbs to declining ridership.
On 29 March Toshkent Mayor Rakhmonbek Usmonov announced that the city’s remaining six-line 87.8 route-km (54.5 route miles) tramway is to be closed by the end of August 2016 in order to provide additional road space to reduce traffic congestion. Diesel buses would provide replacement service and parallel routes have been operated from 5 April.
Mayor Usmonov said the city hopes to sell the 30 KTM-19 trams dating from 2007 and the 20 Pragoimex Vario LF trams bought in 2011. Declining ridership figures on the network currently see the trams carrying 20 000 passengers/day, but numbers have fallen as frequencies have been lengthened, with only 48 trams in daily service. Tramlines 12 and 26 were closed on 12 April, line 8 was closed on 24 April and line 17 on 2 May. From three depots in 2001, the city now just one remaining in service, the previous one closing in August 2015.
Toshkent has been the only city in Uzbekistan to operate trams since 1973. The system was opened as a horse tramway by Belgian interests in 1901, and the 9.9km (6.2-mile) line converted to electric traction in 1912. This was metre-gauge but the whole eventual 71.9km (44.7-mile) system was converted to Soviet standard gauge (1524mm) in 1936-37 and 1965-71. At its maximum 500 trams were operated across a 12-line system.
A metro line in the city was opened in 1977 and has expanded to three lines (36.2km), though it has not opened any new sections since 2001. An extension to line 3 is reportedly still under construction and a fourth line is planned.