Due to the mountainous terrain in Tajikistan and the underfunding of the national train company, taking the train in Tajikistan is not popular. It’s scenic, but very slow. Improvement in the relations with Uzbekistan does open up avenues for international travel in the near future, but for now, trains to Uzbekistan and Russia are a complicated venture.
For more on what to expect while traveling by train in Central Asia, check out the overview page on the Silk Road by train, which includes more info on seats, route planning and timetables.
About railways in Tajikistan: two separate networks exist that are not connected to each other. The northern network joins Khujand with Uzbekistan, and a southern network spreads from Dushanbe to Kulob, Qurgonteppa, to southern Uzbekistan and to the border with Afghanistan at Nizhnij Pyanj.
International rail routes
A Tajikistan – Russia by train forum topic tracks changes and trip reports of routes to Moscow.
Dushanbe – Moscow: The train is filled with Tajik migrant workers on their way to try their luck in Moscow. If you are not Tajik, this train could be a bureaucratic nightmare, since you might need a Russian visa, a Kazakh visa, a double-entry Uzbek visa, a Turkmen transit visa and a Tajik visa to complete this journey. Getting a Turkmen transit visa is the hardest bit, but the Geneva embassy at least has said they are willing to give one. Tajiks taking this train do not need the Turkmen and Uzbek visa (otherwise they need one as well).
If you’re still interested, the entire route takes 5 days. Do check out this mini-documentary on the labour migrants taking this train – well worth your time.
Khujand – Moscow: Search for Hujand in the travel planning websites we reference on the main train page to see when and if this train runs. The train does not stop in Uzbekistan. First stop you can get out after Tajikistan is Beyneu in Kazakhstan.
That is where you probably need to get off, though, since after that, it crosses into Turkmenistan, and you would need a Turkmen transit visa for that. Plans for a Moscow – Dushanbe train that would bypass Turkmenistan are on the table, though.
There is also a Khujand-Moscow train, but low demand means it is not running at the time of writing – it could change, though, so double-check!
Rail routes to Uzbekistan
Since the change of leadership in Uzbekistan in 2016, relations between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have improved dramatically. No rail routes between the 2 countries exist yet, except for the jump-off at Amuzang on the Kulob-Moscow route. We will let you know when they start.
Plans for a direct Tashkent – Dushanbe train are on the table.
You can get close to Dushanbe by train, though, with the Tashkent-Samarkand-Denau-Sariasya service. Full information at route planning for Uzbek trains.
Dushanbe – Khujand – Konibodom: Trains 367 & 368 have stopped running since March 2011. It became unprofitable since the new Dushanbe – Khojand highway opened. By car it now takes 5 to 8 hours, while the train route took 32 hours in the past, including a part in Uzbekistan.
There has been talk about a new, straighter Dushanbe – Tursunzode – Khujand, but we’re not holding our breath.
Other domestic routes: There are some very slow, very cheap routes domestically in the south. Kulob – Qurghonteppa – Dushanbe takes 8 hours, for instance. Shaartuz – Qorghanteppa takes around 3,5 hours.
This is clearly for lovers of slow travel and train geeks. We keep track of domestic train routes in Tajikistan in this forum topic.
This is the latest timetable info we have, from 2017:
602 Dushanbe 08.00 – Kurgonteppa 12.00 – Kulob 15.40, Tuesday & Saturday
604 Dushanbe 08.00 – Kurgonteppa 12.00 – Shahrtuz 14.36, Tuesday & Saturday
601 Kulob 08.00 – Kurgonteppa 11.31 – Dushanbe 15.32, Wednesday & Sunday
603 Shahrtuz 08.50 – Kurgonteppa 11.31 – Dushanbe 15.32, Wednesday & Sunday
6373 Dushanbe 17.25 – Pakhtaabad (= Tursunzoda) 19.55, Daily
6374 Pakhtaabad 04.42 – Dushanbe 07.03, Daily