The Changing Face of the Silk Route – by Steve Mortimer,  Byroads Travel

On a recent Byroads Travel trip  in Uzbekistan  I was amazed at the development of high speed train travel between the cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara.  In the past train travel in Uzbekistan was slow and not always reliable – but not any more. Now you can sit back in total comfort and experience train travel on-board the ‘Afrosiyob’ as you travel at 230 km/h across the parched landscape. The train is revolutionising train travel in Uzbekistan and work is underway to extend the high-speed Afrosiyob service to the country’s west to Urgench.

China, as part of its  ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has provided massive investment over the last few years in the development of the railway network across several countries along the ancient Silk Route. This investment culminated in history being made in January 2017 with the arrival in the United Kingdom of the first freight train from China. The train from Yiwu in eastern China pulled into east London having completed the 12,000 km journey through China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before finally crossing under the English Channel into the UK. The journey took 18 days and marked a milestone in China’s push to build commercial links across Europe and Asia.

The next Byroads 13 Day Uzbekistan tour starts in Tashkent on the 7th of October 2018 and still has a few places available. Click here for our 4 page colour brochure.