The tunnel was built by China Railway Tunnel Group and local contractors and has taken around three years to complete. The $US 455m project was financed with the aid of a $US 350m loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

The $US 1.9bn Angren – Pap line will create a direct link between the capital Tashkent and Uzbekistan's second-largest city Namangan and will also enable east-west freight traffic to bypass northern Tajikistan.

Reaching an altitude of 2267m above sea level, the Kamchik pass carries the only highway between the two cities entirely in Uzbek territory and it is the only route that could feasibly be taken by a railway through the narrow strip of Uzbek territory between the Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan borders.

UTY forecasts that the electrified railway will carry 600,000 passengers and 4.6 million tonnes of freight in its first year of operation.