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Kazakhstan opens new Metro, After 23 Years




by Gareth Pearson

Kazakhstan’s new metro in the former Kazakh capital, Almaty, was recently opened, becoming the world’s newest subway system. Construction started over 23 years ago in 1988, but was halted after the fall of the USSR. The project came back to life in 2005, and opened to Almaty’s citizens in December 2011. Although it is the world’s 9th largest country, Kazakhstan is not perceived to be a leading economy (Borat didn’t help). However, the country is rising, and Almaty’s Metro certainly changes perceptions. 

It is expected that upon completion, the metro system will total 45 km in length. The first section of Line 1 has a length of 8.56 km and seven stations (four deep-level stations and three sub-surface stations) serviced by 7 trains that are currently in operation. The construction cost is currently estimated to be $1 billion USD.

By simply looking at the contemporary station designs and the brand new trains, perceptions are changed. Although Almaty’s underground system is impressive, it is not without the kitsch Soviet-inspired details expected in this part of the world. Regardless, it is a valuable addition to Kazakhstan’s largest city, home to 1.4 million citizens.

The contrast between new and old styles hints at Cape Town Station’s contemporary facelift against its Apartheid-era form. Not to mention the similarity between the Almaty Metro’s blue colour and that of PRASA’s brand colours. With this glimpse and Cape Town Station’s current upgrade taking place, it’s hard not to get excited about the future of rail in the Mother City. 

Images courtesy of Architizer.