Tajikistan Table of Contents
Topographical barriers between northern and southern Tajikistan have prevented the effective transportation and communication linkage of the two regions (see Topography and Drainage, this ch.). The most important form of transportation has been the railroad; highways are few and of low quality (see fig. 10). Radio and television systems are limited and government controlled.
The north and the south are served by railway networks that link them to neighboring regions of Uzbekistan rather than to each other. Rail traffic between the two regions of Tajikistan must follow a 1,340-kilometer route through Uzbekistan. As is the case with other parts of the economic infrastructure in Central Asia, railway routes reflect the needs of the larger economic system of which Tajikistan was a part until 1991. The railway system in the north was established when that area was part of the Russian Empire's Guberniya of Turkestan. In that era, the railroad from Tashkent, the capital of Turkestan, extended into the agricultural and industrial centers in the Fergana Valley, which includes the far northern part of today's Tajikistan. The railroads in the south were built in the Soviet era, in part to facilitate the shipment of cotton grown in the southernmost parts of Central Asia, not just in Tajikistan, to other parts of the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, substandard equipment was the most serious problem of the Tajikistani railroad system. Levels of freight haulage and passenger service declined steadily as railroad cars sat idle, waiting for spare parts and repairs. By 1994 delivery of goods to the more remote regions of the country had become a hazardous and unpredictable operation.
Data as of March 1996