Two new Talgo train services will be launched from Astana west to Aktobe and Ulralsk, while a third will operate from Aktobe to Almaty in the southeast. Talgo trains already operate on eight services radiating from Astana and Almaty.

"In November last year we introduced a system of tiered pricing for travel on Talgo trains depending on demand," says Mamin. "This innovation allows our high-speed trains to attract more passengers, and provides the bulk of passengers, including pensioners and students, the opportunity to buy cheaper tickets."

EBRD arranges KTZ loan

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and a group of international banks have arranged a $US 300m syndicated financing package to help with KTZ's modernisation and restructuring programme.