Uzbekistan’s national rail company, Italy’s Arsenale seal deal for launch of Samarkand Express luxury train

Uzbekistan’s national rail company, Italy’s Arsenale seal deal for launch of Samarkand Express luxury train
First deputy chairman of the board of Uzbekistan Temir Yo'llari, Khikmatulla Rakhmetov (right), with Paolo Barletta, general director of Arsenale Group. / Uzbekistan Temir Yo'llari
By Mokhi Sultanova in Tashkent May 9, 2024

Uzbekistan Temir Yo'llari, the national railway company of Uzbekistan, and Italy’s luxury rail developer Arsenale Group have sealed an agreement on the launch of the planned luxury train, The Samarkand Express, Temir Yo'llari has announced in a press release

The agreement was signed at the III Tashkent International Investment Forum. Khikmatulla Rakhmetov, vice chairman of the board at Uzbekistan Temir Yo'llari, and Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale Group, inked the project agreement, which aims for a launch by 2026.

The Samarkand Express will feature 13-15 carriages with 38 compartments, including deluxe and super deluxe options, accommodating about 76 travellers. Operating on the Tashkent-Khiva route, the journey will take two nights and three days, with stops at cultural sites such as Samarkand and Bukhara. With 70 to 90 trips per year, the project will emphasise sustainable tourism, integrating eco-friendly practices, according to the investors.

"The signing of these agreements marks a new milestone in the development of our cooperation aimed at creating a unique tourist train in Uzbekistan," Rakhmetov said.

"Today's signed agreement further solidifies our internationalisation plan for an Italian model of luxury slow tourism, unparalleled in the market," said Barletta.

Arsenale Group will spearhead the manufacturing phase, leveraging Italian engineering and craftsmanship. The project involves a strategic collaboration with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane (FS), Italy’s state-owned national rail company.

The number of tourists visiting Uzbekistan reached 974,200 in the first two months of the year, marking growth of 11.9% y/y. 

According to data from Uzbekistan’s state statistics agency, the majority of tourists originated from Tajikistan, from where 363,300 visitors came. Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan were close behind, with 291,100 and 155,900 tourists, respectively. 

However, the number of tourists from China, South Korea, and Belarus remained relatively low, with totals of 5,500, 5,400, and 2,200, respectively.

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