The "Afrosiyab" is Uzbekistan's high speed train linking together the major tourist cities of Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent. The trains are Spanish built "Talgo" sets capable of travelling at speeds of up to 250 km/h, covering the 600 kilometres between Tashkent and Bukhara in just under 4 hours. The first part of the route, from Tashkent to Samarkand opened in 2011, with the extension to Bukhara opening a few years later in 2016. Taking a trip on this train is just like travelling through Western Europe - it is fast, clean and comfortable!
Train No. 762Ф at Tashkent station
Departing Tashkent Station
All "Afrosiyab" high speed trains depart from Tashkent's Central Railway Station, denoted by "ТАШКЕНТ Ц" on your train ticket. If your train ticket says "ТАШКЕНТ ЮЖ", it means your train will depart from the southern railway station in Tashkent (click here for more information). Carefully check your train ticket and confirm with your taxi driver as our taxi driver started drive to the wrong station before I noticed what he was doing!
Getting to Tashkent's Central Railway Station is cheap by taxi (ask your hotel to order you one via a mobile app - approximately US$2) or catch the Metro costing just 1,200 Uzbek Sum (US$0.15). Once at Tashkent Central Railway Station, you will need to show your train ticket and passport to access the main front doors of the building. Once through the main entrance, there will be an x-ray machine and a further ticket check (your ticket will also be stamped). This is the normal procedure at all Uzbekistan railway stations. A further check of your ticket and passport will be done by the Conductor before boarding the train.
The train departed and arrived perfectly on time with the journey itself being rather uneventful. The landscape out the window was typical Uzbekistani desert scenery however the real highlight of this rail journey was the speed at which the train itself travels at. Inside each carriage is an electronic display, showing the current train speed - the highest reading I saw was 198 k/ph which wasn't too far off the fastest attainable speed of 250 k/ph. The train itself is clean, comfortable and spacious in all classes and will make you feel like you're back in Western Europe.
So whether its speed, comfort or convenience you're looking for whilst travelling around Uzbekistan, the "Afrosiyab" ticks all the boxes - just don't expect the same quality in neighbouring Central Asian countries (except for a couple of trips in Kazakhstan perhaps).
Train No. 762Ф at Samarkand station
Arriving at Samarkand Station
Once you have exited the platform area, you will immediately be surrounded by plenty of taxi drivers / touts offering a host of options - from one way taxi journeys to the Registan, to whole day trips around town. You therefore have two choices, either negotiate a fare to your hotel (most likely near the Registan) or walk a little further (100 metres), past the tram stop to the local bus station and catch a local bus. As we caught the bus both ways, I am not sure what the taxi fare is but I would expect it to be at least US$5-10 depending on your bargaining skills.
If you go for the local bus option, look for bus number 3 or 73. The ticket can be bought on the bus, but it is preferable that you buy it beforehand from the small kiosk selling only bus tickets. Either way it will cost 1,200 Uzbek Sum (US$0.15) and the journey to the Registan will take around 30-40 minutes. As always, either ask the bus driver or conductor to stop at the Registan or use your preloaded Google Maps to help you pick the best bus stop to alight at for your hotel or hostel.
"ТАШКЕНТ (УТИ)” Tashkent (Depart) 07:30
“САМАРКАНД (УТИ)” Samarkand (Arrive) 09:38 – (Depart) 09:48
“БУХАРА 1 (УТИ)” Bukhara (Arrive) 11:19
Train Numbers 761Ф, 765Ф and 766Ф are also operated by “Afrosiyab” High Speed Talgo trains. These trains depart daily as follows:
Train No. 766Ф Tashkent 18:50 - Samarkand 20:58/21:08 - Bukhara 22:39
Train No. 765Ф Bukhara 04:55 - Samarkand 06:27/06:37 - Tashkent 08:47
Train No. 761Ф Bukhara 15:48 - Samarkand 17:20/17:30 - Tashkent 19:40
Note: Other slower trains also operate between Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara such as Train No. 010Ф and Train No. 056Ч.
Tickets can technically be purchased online from the Uzbekistan railways website, however I was unable to purchase tickets through this site as on each occasion after I had entered my credit card details in and pressed ‘next’, the website defaulted back to the journey planner page. Alternative options include buying them at any railway station in Uzbekistan or using an Uzbekistan based travel agency. Beware that tickets for the "Afrosiyab" High Speed train can easily sell out weeks in advance but tickets for the slower trains are usually available on the day of departure still.
As I was beginning my journey in Kazakhstan, I used "TicketsKz" which is a basically an online travel agency. It is very important to point out that tickets purchased through this website must be collected in Kazakhstan. Ticket prices are marked up by approximately 50% if using this website.
My Tashkent to Samarkand ticket collected in Kazakhstan
What was the train like (inc. ticket prices)?
Coach 10 – Business Class
Class Сидячий (1В) – 141,000 Uzbek Soum (approx US$18) – prices obtained from www.railway.uz/en/
Exterior and Interior views of Coach 10 (Business Class), the seating plan and breakfast (included)
Coach 08/09 – First Class
Class Сидячий (1С) – 95,000 Uzbek Soum (approx US$12) – prices obtained from www.railway.uz/en/
Exterior and Interior views of Coaches 8-9 (First Class) and the seating plan
Coach 02/03/04/05 – Standard Class
Class Сидячий (2Е) – 68,000 Uzbek Soum (approx US$9) – prices obtained from www.railway.uz/en/
Exterior and Interior views of Coaches 2-5 (Standard Class) and the seating plan
The Bistro Coach
The Bistro Carriage is about half way along the train, between First Class coach 8 and Standard Class coach 5. It is really just a bar with snack based items but as the longest journey possible on this train is just under 4 hours, a proper meal isn't really required anyway.
Exterior and Interior views of the Bistro Carriage between the First and Standard Class sections
The official Uzbekistan Railways website is very useful for journey planning, timetables (use the Cyrillic station names I have written in the "timetable" section) and seating layouts. Booking the train tickets however, proved impossible for me personally.
I used "TicketsKz" to purchase all my Uzbekistan train tickets which is a Kazakhstan based online agency. If using this site, you must pick up your tickets in Kazakhstan and expect ticket prices to be marked up by approximately 50%. The train carriage seating plans on this site are not useful and are actually highly misleading in some cases, so it is best to use the official Uzbekistan Railways website above to choose the carriage and seat you want, and then to just select that exact carriage number and seat number on this website.
Train No. 762Ф at Tashkent station (top) and Samarkand station (bottom)
There are always more photos to be shared but sharing them all on this journal page will just make it look cluttered so if you want to see more photos for inspiration, check out my Flickr “Uzbekistan-2018” album.
Previous: Uzbekistan's Secret Metro – Tuesday 9th October…
Next: Samarkand – Wednesday 10th October…
or back to Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan Travel Journal…