Saturday 17 October 2015

Motorcycle shipping tips: Kazakhstan

Motorcycle shipping tips: Kazakhstan

Heading Central Asia? Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pamirs? Well, considering that you are not coming by south way from Turkmenistan, you have a vast land to pass on the way - Kazakhstan. Over 3000km from West to East side. There are plenty of interesting places to visit, I believe, but if you just transit through it, there is an easy and cheap solution to shorten your fascinating ride through sands and steppes.
In Europe you would probably never even think to load motorcycle on a train just by yourself. In Kazakhstan you have this opportunity.

You may heard of possibility of shipping bikes by Transsiberian railway. Well, Kazakh Railway works same. That is what Soviets left there. I did not found any tips on how do it over the Internet, so I have decided to write down a short guide.

We intended travel with our motorbikes on a train from Atyrau (West part of thecountry, close to Russian border) to Almaty on East, but we finished in Shimkent (South, close to Uzbekistan border), almost 2000 km far.  

The trick is that you need match your seat with availability of cargo waggon on a train. On each train station there is cargo office called 'bagazhone otdelenye'. Before going there check seats availability on the interesting train for upcoming days. 'Bagazhnoe' is usually located on one of ends of main (first) platform. There you will be informed which of trains is pulling 'bagazhnyi' waggon. Not every single train on the same route will have it, you may need wait one or two days. You may ship your bike on one train and go by another, but we experienced that it is much safer to go on the same one. Why? Well, we so guys who work on loading cargo waggon. They said to leave them keys and they will take care. We would not. There is no ramp at loading place. If you go on a same train with your motorcycle they will let you load/unload the motorcycle from platform by yourself. Of course, if the platform is high enough to push the bike in and out. What we found out there are at least two of high platforms on stations in Atyrau and Almaty. In other case you will need support of 4+ guys to handle 200kgs bike. Riding on a platform is not recommended. We had a not really nice discussion with police and almost got fine, however they could not find clause saying it is illegal.  To be honest it was not really smart idea to ride on a platform but you have only 15 mins to leave your personal stuff in passenger waggon and then move to cargo. In our case it was distance of 15 waggons to cover.

No one take care to secure your vehicle in a waggon, so think twice before leaving it . Central stand is good idea, if none make sure that it will not fall from a side stand. Train tends to roll quite much.
Important, if you have passenger ticket you get 50% discount on each declared kg of your vehicle. So before setting up cargo ticket you need go back to main station ticket office and pay for your seat, well, bed in fact. Then again come to cargo office and sign all the papers. You need declare bike weight for which you will be charged. In our case no one checked actual weight. You are supposed to drain all fuel before loading. In practise it will not be checked, however cargo waggon service guys may want get a gift or cash if they catch you on carrying fuel.

In September 2015 the price for each kg on route from Atyrau to Almaty was 60 Tenge (0.20 USD) including discount. Hiring porters to have bikes taken off the train may cost you 5000 Tenge extra depending on your haggling skills. In case you are in a hurry and have at least basic knowledge of Russian language you may try to make a deal directly with staff on cargo waggon. There are always at least two men sitting there all the way. They will be happy to help you and have all the cash in their pockets. Just go directly to cargo waggon just after train arrival your station and try your luck. Don't expect any ticket or paper proving that you loaded your bike.

Good luck!

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