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Almaty Subway Line Tested For First Time

The hall of the Zhybek-Zholy (Silk Road) station of the Almaty subway
ALMATY -- The first line of the long-awaited Almaty subway has been through its inaugural test, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov, other city officials, and journalists travelled on the first subway to navigate the 9-kilometer line from the Raiymbek district to Alatau district.

Yesimov said after the journey that construction on the line's first six stations will be finished by the end of the year. The seventh station -- Baikonur -- is due to be ready next year.

The mayor added that the first subway line will open for use by December 2011, in time for the 20th anniversary of Kazakhstan's independence.

Work on the Almaty subway began in 1988 when Kazakhstan was a Soviet republic but was suspended in the 1990s due to economic constraints. Construction of the subway in the mountainous Almaty region was also slowed by difficult geological conditions.

The trains for the Almaty subway were designed and produced by the South Korean company Hyundai.