Cross-border passenger train services have commenced operations between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, connecting the cities of Samarkand and Astana.

The new service has been launched as part of an agreement between the two countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation.

It is set to travel from the Uzbek cities of Samarkand through Tashkent, Saryagash, Shymkent, Taraz, Shu, Saryshagan, Karaganda and terminate at Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.

The launch of the international train was organised by national railway companies Kazakhstan Temir Zholy and Uzbekiston Temir Yollari.

Passengers on-board the train's inaugural service arrived at the new station complex known as Nurly Jol and were received by representatives from the railway administration of Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan railway transport veteran Bahodir Yusupov said: “The launch of this international train is a significant event for the two peoples.

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“We came from Samarkand and on the way saw the beautiful places of Kazakhstan. We got a great impression by the trip.

"The new passenger train service will facilitate bilateral relations and is also expected to boost tourism in both the countries."

“We were met with great care and showed the new station; I've been to many of the railway stations in the world, but I've never seen like this one.

“Kazakhstanis should be proud of their achievements. I wish everyone further success.

"We hope that now you will visit us more often.”

The new passenger train service will facilitate bilateral relations and is also expected to boost tourism in both the countries, which will be of particular importance during the inernational EXPO-2017 exhibition.

Image: Nurly Jol station. Photo: courtesy of Press-office of Kazakhstan Temir Zholy.