Tashkent's Tramway to close!

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GrimsbyPacer

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This tramway is huge, the largest in Uzbekistan (former Soviet country in midwest Asia). And the plan is that closing the tramway to widen roads will reduce congestion on the city's roads (dispite how badly that worked out elsewhere).
http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/toshkent-tram-network-to-close.html

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Here's the quote:
UZBEKISTAN: Toshkent Mayor Rakhmonbek Usmonov announced on March 29 that the city’s 87·8 route-km tram network is to close by the end of the year. The former tracks will be used to provide additional road space, which the city authorities hope will reduce traffic congestion. Tram services are to be replaced by buses, with shadow bus routes introduced alongside trams from April 5.
 
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W-on-Sea

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That strikes me as a bad decision, in all! I was in Tashkent late last year - one key thing about the city is that much of it only dates to the 1960s, as much of the town was severely damaged in a large earthquake just before then. Consequently, many of the streets are already very wide - there are places in which it really feels like a creepy, totalitarian, metropolis (which, essentially, it still is), big streets, wide open spaces, but relatively few people on the streets for much of the time. (Reports too, of people seen on the streets late at night - even 11pm - being rounded up by cops and taken away by minibus to police stations to explain themselves). While the metro, while pretty, is grossly underused, and has unusually intense security (you have to show your passports even to enter stations, and they are checked, and carefully checked at that). So not sure what they are playing at here, really.

Another post-Soviet capital to have got rid of its trams is Tbilisi, Georgia. While that is a very different type of city indeed from Tashkent (very old, narrow streets, hilly, crazy, crazy, driving, but also earthquake-prone, and with a busy but small metro network), I'm not sure it was a good idea at all. Loads of minibuses kind of take up the slack, but it's not enough.
 

GrimsbyPacer

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Sometimes I feel that if the Soviet Union didn't fail and wasn't wasting money on Nukes and corruption, it'll be much better for the people out there than today.
That Trolleybus line sounds good.
Thanks W-on-Sea for the Tashkent info, I've never been there but it strucke that a tramway of this size should never close, especially for congestion reasons.
Why not charge cars and encourage tram use instead?
 

Shinkansenfan

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That strikes me as a bad decision, in all! I was in Tashkent late last year - one key thing about the city is that much of it only dates to the 1960s, as much of the town was severely damaged in a large earthquake just before then. Consequently, many of the streets are already very wide - there are places in which it really feels like a creepy, totalitarian, metropolis (which, essentially, it still is), big streets, wide open spaces, but relatively few people on the streets for much of the time. (Reports too, of people seen on the streets late at night - even 11pm - being rounded up by cops and taken away by minibus to police stations to explain themselves). While the metro, while pretty, is grossly underused, and has unusually intense security (you have to show your passports even to enter stations, and they are checked, and carefully checked at that). So not sure what they are playing at here, really.

Another post-Soviet capital to have got rid of its trams is Tbilisi, Georgia. While that is a very different type of city indeed from Tashkent (very old, narrow streets, hilly, crazy, crazy, driving, but also earthquake-prone, and with a busy but small metro network), I'm not sure it was a good idea at all. Loads of minibuses kind of take up the slack, but it's not enough.

This sounds like another misguided planning idea... just as the plan in Tbilisi to remove the railway tracks from the center of town and to divert them several miles away on the edge of town.

Or Singapore's decision to abandon the in town art deco station and to force remaining passengers bound for Malaysia to board at Woodlands near the Malaysian border.

In all instances, once the right of way or tracks are gone, it is costly and difficult to restore.
 

Bletchleyite

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I agree this is a short-sighted plan. Though in the case of Singapore that probably did make sense in light of the long-term plan - the extension of the MRT system across the Causeway to Johor.
 

MarkyT

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This sounds like another misguided planning idea... just as the plan in Tbilisi to remove the railway tracks from the center of town and to divert them several miles away on the edge of town . . .

In all instances, once the right of way or tracks are gone, it is costly and difficult to restore.

The Tbilisi plan seems totally crazy. I wondered if there were lots of level crossings or something but looking at Google Earth it's a fully segregated double track railway, with a well sited central station. They're proposing the additional cost of running two main line stations, one either side of the city, so presumabaly making passenger connections between the two difficult and time consuming with a cross city journey on the metro. Route the freights away from the centre certainly and take the freight sidings and depot/works facilities out of town by all means, so freeing up a huge amount of land, but leave the double track passenger line and the fairly modest four platform main station. As it stands the plan is a kind of Anti-Crossrail or Thames un-link.
 

W-on-Sea

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The main railway station in Tbilisi is definitely not fit for purpose, I'll say that. In places its grand and has loads of empty unused space, but then the platform area is crowded and (like many things in Georgia) utterly chaotic. And the surrounding area is shambolic. Less so than the Didube bus station,, but still hardly user-friendly. Then again the fact is that there are relatively few passenger trains, you always need to book in advance, and the railway network is small, and it isn't necessarily the fastest or most convenient means of transport...

I'm not convinced that moving to out-of-town stations is a good idea (not least as the existing station is, at least, well connected on the metro), but I'm not surprised it's being proposed (this also happened recently in Tirana, Albania), given that it's common in post-Soviet cities for long-distance coach stations to be located well outside city centres, with entirely different stations for different directions (Tbilisi is a slight exception to this rule, it has at least two bus stations, but both are, while not centrally located, also relatively not far-flung).

But really what Georgia needs to do is to find a way to attract people to use trains - at present they are often barely practical or an attractive option. Not convinced closing, rather than radically rebuilding the existing city centre station is the way to go, but it must be said that socially and economically Georgia is very unlike pretty much anywhere in Europe, East or West
 

harri2626

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Very shocked to learn of the closure of the Tashkent tramways. I'm planning to head there in about a week, specially to ride the last routes. I have a system map dating from 2003, but this is obviously obsolete as they have been closing routes for a number of years. Anyone out there with more up-to-date information please?
 

GrimsbyPacer

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I've attached a one-year old map of Tashkent's Tramway network.
Hope your trip goes okay, the closure is sad.
Some trams are only 5 years old and are very nice.
It's the largest tramway on the whole Asian continent, the tramway being shut down is pure stupidity.
 

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MarkyT

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Agree, total madness. It was madness here as well, but fortunately madness that is increasingly being reversed to some extent.

City leadership has probably been hoodwinked by some dodgy US right wing think tank who still inexplicably hate anything rail-based in public transport because it's somehow 'socialist', being planned rather than emerging magically and fully formed from a wholly free market (something to do with a certain Ayn Rand novel written well over half a century ago now!). It wouldn't be so bad if they were intending to use the dedicated tram reservations for bus lanes for trolley buses, 'BRT' (bus rapid transport) or similar, but I gather they just want to use the space gained for general road widening, which could have the effect of encouraging more traffic in total in a presumably growing, modernising economy whilst removing any segregated means of speeding past congestion on the corridors concerned. That could have the effect of slowing everyone down unless the city plans to embark on a large expansion of their metro. Even if that was the plan it would seem sensible to leave the trams or another semi-segregated surface mode in place until the new metro routes were ready.
 
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harri2626

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Many thanks, Grimsby - a valued piece of information. Sadly, I suspect much of these routes are now gone but I can use this map for reference and riding.
 

TheKnightWho

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City leadership has probably been hoodwinked by some dodgy US right wing think tank who still inexplicably hate anything rail-based in public transport because it's somehow 'socialist', being planned rather than emerging magically and fully formed from a wholly free market (something to do with a certain Ayn Rand novel written well over half a century ago now!). It wouldn't be so bad if they were intending to use the dedicated tram reservations for bus lanes for trolley buses, 'BRT' (bus rapid transport) or similar, but I gather they just want to use the space gained for general road widening, which could have the effect of encouraging more traffic in total in a presumably growing, modernising economy whilst removing any segregated means of speeding past congestion on the corridors concerned. That could have the effect of slowing everyone down unless the city plans to embark on a large expansion of their metro. Even if that was the plan it would seem sensible to leave the trams or another semi-segregated surface mode in place until the new metro routes were ready.

I suspect you're probably right. As though road building somehow isn't socialist.
 

Welly

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Sounds like Tashkent doesn't have enough money to renew the tram network just like most UK cities did not have enough money to renew the trams post WW2.
 

harri2626

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......but the crazy thing is, they bought a batch of new Czech trams a couple of years ago and started to build new lines. From what I can tell, most of the tramway is on reserved track but, like other former Soviet cities, the Metro gets priority funding for prestige purposes. This smacks of a Mayor with a personal agenda.
 

W-on-Sea

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I suspect you're probably right. As though road building somehow isn't socialist.

No, that's not how Uzbekistan works (though it probably is a reasonable explanation for what happened in Tbilisi). It's not a market economy, nor one open to the outside world. I'd be more inclined to posit whims of the presidential administration and it's subordinate security apparatus, who between them call the shots in Tashkent, not any disciple of Ayn Rand, as the instigators of the closure
 

harri2626

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I was due to travel to Tashkent tomorrow (29th April) to ride what remains of the tram system. However, my visa and passport were late being returned so I have cancelled the trip. This may be a blessing in disguise as a local travel agent told me that only route 17 remained and it may be closed "within days".

Today I read a local news report stating that the system closed completely on 22 April, with no public consultation. This must be the quickest peacetime system closure in history. Where have all the replacement buses come from in such a short period? Local reports suggest that Tashkent paid over the odds for their new trams in 2011 and it is unclear how much they will be able to sell them for now.

There must be more to all this than meets the eye......
 
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