Need of laying of the railroad from Orenburg to Tashkent was stated by the specialized railway commission in 1874. For strategic reasons it was decided to construct the railroad from east coast of the Caspian Sea deep into of the Central Asian desert to the cities of Kyzyl-Arvat, Ashgabat further.
The construction of the Zakaspiysky railroad began in November, 1880. In 1885 the railroad reached Ashgabat, in 1886 – Chardzhou. In May, 1888 with construction of 30 flying bridges through Amu Darya the movement to Samarkand opened. In 1885 the starting point of the Zakaspiysky railroad was transferred from the Mikhaylovsky gulf in Uzun-Adad, and in 1896 – to Krasnovodsk (modern Turkmenbashy) to provide approach of larger courts. By 1898 the total length of the Zakaspiysky railroad reached 1579 versts.
In 1899 from station Ursatyevskaya (nowadays Havast) laid two branches: to Tashkent and to Fergana Valley to Andijan.
In 1899 the Zakaspiysky railroad was transferred to the jurisdiction of Ministry of Railways and after merge to lines of Samarkand-Andizhanskaya Road received the name Central Asian which passed across the territory of Syrdarya, Samarkand, Fergana, Zakaspiysky areas and the Bukhara khanate. Total length of the railroad with branches made 2354 versts.
If its role first of all affected the first operational phases of the road in political and military areas, gradually began to increase as well a commercial component. From 1887 to 1900 goods turnover increased by 7,3 times. Sharply export grew from Central Asia of such goods, as cotton, dried fruits, silk and astrakhan fur. About the turn, from Russia began to import more manufactories, sugar, metal and other products of production. Under the influence of the opened opportunities for export on the markets of Russia increase in production in the countries of Central Asia began to be observed, separate types of the industry started developing, first of all cotton cleaning positively affected on emergence of the railroad and development of trade of Russia with Afghanistan and Persia. So, if in 1896-1900 commodity turnover of the Russian-Afghan trade made 2,7 million rubles, in the 1906-1910th – 5,8 million, and in 1911 – already 10,6 million. Existence of the railroad influenced and development of east regions of Persia and the Persian-Russian trade.
The main stream of freights went through Krasnovodsk port and Ashgabat to the European regions of Russia both to Persia and through a fort Aleksandrovsky and the cities of Merv (nowadays Mary), Kerki, Kelif – to Afghanistan. In the strategic relation on the Merv line – Kushka the railroad gave vent to the southern border. Till 1900 the main lines are built: Krasnovodsk – Tashkent, Chernyaevo – Andijan (the movement is opened in 1899), Merv – Kushka (1900). Construction was carried out by military units in difficult conditions of the Karakum Desert. Builders for the first time in world practice proved possibility of laying of the railroad in the conditions of the waterless desert and mobile sand. Experience of construction was applied at design and construction of the railroad in Sahara subsequently.
Despite continuous growth of length of a railway line and its value in region life, the road remained “island” as it wasn’t connected with a railway system of the country. Need of transfer of freights on vessels in Krasnovodsk created additional difficulties and tightened terms of their delivery. Therefore, naturally, the question of construction of the new railroad which directly connected Russia to the Central Asian region was repeatedly brought up.
Some such projects were put forward, however in 1900 a route Orenburg – Tashkent was chosen. The construction of the road was begun in 1901 with both parties. In January, 1906 the road became operational, having opened for Central Asia a direct exit to the Central Russia.
By 1913 in a rolling stock there were 531 engines, 7953 commodity and 495 cars. On the road depots, railway workshops in Tashkent were constructed, 25 schools were opened. Extent of all railway lines made 2740 km. Technical equipment of the railroad remained weak: the rolling stock was presented by low-power engines of a series O, Sh, H and two-axis wooden cars with a screw harness (hitch) and emergency brakes; at way rails of easy type on wooden cross ties and the sandy basis were laid; imperfect systems of the alarm system and communication (baton system and telegraph) were used; insufficient development was gained by railway stations. Stages passed per day from 2 to 12 couples trains weighing no more than 600 t, local speed made 13 km/h.
In days of the Soviet power the Central Asian railroad united a network of the railroads Uzbek the Soviet Socialist Republic, Turkmen the Soviet Socialist Republic, Tajik the Soviet Socialist Republic, partially Kyrgyz the Soviet Socialist Republic. Management of the road settled down in Tashkent.
In the 20th years of the last century later on the Central Asian railroad reconstruction was carried out. New lines are built: Amudarya – Termez (1925), Termez – Dzharkurgan and Fergana – Kyzyl Kia (1926), Andijan – Tentyaksay (1927), Dzharkurgan – Dushanbe, Dushanbe – Yangi-Bazar, Usak – Shakhrikhan, Karasu – Osh, Dzhalal Abad – Kok-Yangak (1928 – 1932), Kanibadam – Shurab (1933), Uchkurgan – Tash-Kumyr (1935).
In days of World war II Road provided communication of Central Asia with the Caucasus and the USSR center. Measures for significant increase in its capacity, production on a place of scarce materials and spare parts were taken. 9 iron and 3 steel departments, lines Tashkent – Angren (1941-1945) and Amudarya – Dushanbe were in a short space of time constructed.
In post-war years across the territory of modern Uzbekistan new sites of the railroad were laid: Salar – the Barrage (1947), Chardzhou – Kungrad (1957), Navoi – Uchkuduk and Jizzakh – Syrdarya (nowadays Mekhnat) (1962), Keles – Uzbekistan (1966), the Barrage – Hodzhikent (1967), Superphosphate (nowadays Marakand) – Kashkadarya (1970), Termez – Kurgan Tyube (1974), Naymankul – Nukus (1975), Nukus – Chimbay (1980).
Since 1963 the ferry Krasnovodsk – Baku which provided the shortest pass free communication of the road with the Transcaucasian railroad works.
The major railway line is Kungrad Beyneu (408 km) with which commissioning in 1972 Central Asia received a vital exit in the European part of the USSR. Operating experience of this line showed its exclusive value. Transportations on it in 1990 made more than 1 billion tons of freights and 1,3 million passengers. In 1982 the combined bridge crossing through the Amu Darya River near Termez which allowed strengthening transport economic relations with Afghanistan is put into operation.
On the Central Asian railroad in 1931 on a site Ashgabat – Dushak and Ashgabat – for the first time in world practice regular passenger and freight transportation on diesel draft began Bami. In 1974 it is expensive to the first on railroad network of the USSR completely passed to diesel hauling.