High speed train unveiled in Uzbekistan
Officials in Uzbekistan have unveiled the first high speed train service in Central Asia, providing even more travel options for those visiting the country.
The railway will connect the nation's capital Tashkent with the second largest city Samarkand - a key stop-off point for travellers on their tours of Uzbekistan.
Samarkand lies on the central point of the ancient Silk Route that once linked China and the West and is home to numerous architectural marvels, such as the Registan and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque.
The city is some 213 miles from the Uzbek capital, but thanks to the new train link, passengers will be able to get there in just two hours and ten minutes, travelling at speeds of 157 miles per hour.
Under a deal signed between state-run railway company Uzbekistan Temir Yullari and Spanish manufacturer Talgo in 2009, the first of the trains was delivered in July. The line is scheduled to open early this month, with a second train due to arrive soon.
Officials and foreign dignitaries tested the line when they travelled to the opening ceremony of the international festival of Oriental Melodies in Samarkand last week.
Speaking to journalists in Tashkent, Uzbekistan's deputy prime minister Batyr Khodjayev said: "Thanks to the personal initiative of president Islam Karimov, this project was implemented in our country and is the only of its kind in Central Asia."
If all goes well and the state railway company can gather together the funding it needs, it plans to open a similar high speed rail route to the ancient city of Bukhara in the future.
Bukhara is also a notable point along the Silk Route and its historic centre, with its mosques and madrassas has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.