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City-News Archive

Astana [KZ] - Electricity bill unpaid – Trolleybus services suspended

J. Lehmann - 06.04.09

Astana - Kazakhstan

Astana (former names include Akmola, Akmolinsk, Tselinograd and Aqmola), is the capital and second largest city (after Almaty) of Kazakhstan, with an officially estimated population of 633,700 as of November 2008.

It is located in the north-central portion of Kazakhstan, within Akmola Province, though politically separate from the rest of the province.

Until 1997 the town was named Akmola and was of no particular importance. In 1998 it was renamed Astana which, translated means capital or main city.

Coordinates: 51° 10′ 50.52″ N, 71° 27′ 39.6″ E

A Trolleybus system has been in operation here since 1982. The system grew in size and, at it's largest, had 5 routes and 65 Vehicles in operation. In recent years, however the size of the system and the fleet has been continuously reduced. The final stand was only 2 routes. Of the original 60 new vehicles, type KAZ TA 398, ordered only 24 were delivered after the order had been reduced due to financial difficulties. There are also a few remaining Skoda 14 Tr and ZIU 682 in the fleet.

Despite the increase in advertising* on the vehicles, generating a new income source, the operator was unable to pay the electricity bill towards the end of the year 2008. As a consequence, the system was cut off and since 01.10.2008 the Trolleybuses have ceased operating.

Talks with the government and the city council to find a solution to this problem have, so far, been unsuccessful. It is to be hoped that a solution will be found and that the public transport in the "Capital City" will not be left to the numerous minibuses, as is the case in many of the cities in the third world Central Asian countries.

* As a general rule advertising on buses is extremely good value for money for the advertiser and not a high income source for the operating companies. Certainly one would not expect to cover the fuel or energy costs with the income thus generated.

Our photos show at the top Trolleybus type KAZ A 398 number 88 with a colourful advert typical of all the remaining vehicles in service and below the last remaining Skoda type 14 Tr Trolleybus number 5
Top photo: Maxim Golbrayhta, 26.05.2008
Bottom photo: Alexander Polen, 23.05.2008

Translation: Bankes