The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development believes that modern urban transport is crucial for cities and also for whole countries as they strive to develop modern economies.
Today, the EBRD and the city of Almaty have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at the development of a new light rail system in the centre of Kazakhstan’s biggest city.
The EBRD’s Managing Director for Infrastructure, Thomas Maier, signed the MoU on behalf of the Bank. Akim of Almaty, Akhmetjan Esimov, signed on behalf of the city.
The agreement envisages a project with an estimated cost of US$ 300 million. It will cover construction of about 14 kilometres of light rail tracks to replace the existing tram route and will also finance new rolling stock and equipment. The future light rail, also known as fast tram, will be faster and cheaper to build than a metro and will serve as the backbone of the rest of the surface public transport system in the city.
The EBRD’s Managing Director for Infrastructure, Thomas Maier, said at the signing: “Light rail will complement and transform Almaty’s public transport system. We believe that efficient public transport is the only way forward for modern cities. Urban light rail can be an effective solution not only in Almaty but in many other busy cosmopolitan cities in the region where we invest”.
Akim of Almaty, Akhmetjan Esimov, noted that “Implementation of this project is aimed at improvement of the urban transport system of Almaty by developing environmentally friendly modern electrical transport. It will allow the city’s population to get access to a more mobile and comfortable mode of travel. The project will also result in a better quality of passenger transportation as well as a lower level of emissions.”
This project will be the first major public-private partnership (PPP) transaction in urban transport to be launched in Kazakhstan. The EBRD will seek grants to cover costs for legal and technical advisers to assist the city of Almaty with drafting PPP documents.
The EBRD has also invested in other urban transport projects in Kazakhstan, in particular the Almaty buses and trolleybuses. The light rail would become part of the EBRD’s integrated approach for Almaty’s urban transport sector.