The trains are called “Afrosiyob” which is also the name of “the ruined site of the ancient and medieval city of Samarkand”. The words ‘Afrasiyob’ and ‘Afrosiyob’ have the same meaning. According to Wikipedia, this site was occupied between 500 BC and 1220 AD and currently it is a “hilly grass mound near the Bibi Khanum Mosque” in the city of Samarkand. Let’s come back to the train. There are two high speed train services between Tashkent and Samarkand and one of the two trains continues the journey past Samarkand to Bukhara while the other one terminates at Karshi after crossing Samarkand. Just know that these are not “Bullet” trains as falsely claimed by some travel agents but just high speed trains (supplied by Talgo, Spain) that can go up to a maximum speed of 220 km/h. In this page I will give information relating to the schedule (timetable), fares, and where to book e-tickets for these trains.
Schedule (Timetable) of High Speed Trains Between Tashkent and Bukhara via Samarkand
1. Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara
Train Numbers 759 and 760
This train runs daily between Tashkent and Karshi via Samarkand starting its journey in the morning with number 760 (7603) from Tashkent at 8.00am, reaching Samarkand at 10.08am and terminating at Karshi at 11.20am.
In the evening, this train operates with number 759 (7593) and starts its journey from Karshi at 4.48pm, reaches Samarkand at 5.52pm and finally arrives at Tashkent at 20.10pm.
2. Bukhara – Samarkand – Tashkent
Train Numbers 761 and 762
This train runs daily between Tashkent and Bukhara and stops at Samarkand on its way. The morning train operates with number 762 (7620) and starts from Tashkent station at 7.30am. It reaches Samarkand station at 9.38am. After a five minute stop there, it continues its journey to Bukhara where it reaches at 11.14am.
The evening service operates with the number 761 (7610) and starts from Bukhara at 15.55pm and reaches Samarkand at 5.25pm. After a five minute stop, it again starts for Tashkent and reaches its destination at 7.40pm.
Fares and Where To Book
The official website for booking of etickets on Uzbek trains is: http://eticket.uzrailway.uz/?lang=en
The official schedule (timetable) of Uzbek trains can be seen at this website: http://eticket.uzrailway.uz/timetable/timetable.html
But there are problems. These official sites do not work sometimes. Another problem is that even if the sites work, only some parts of the content are in English and it would be almost impossible for a non-Uzbek to make a booking on the official website. Moreover, I tried but did not see Afrosiyob trains in the booking search. Perhaps the only option available for the international tourists is to search on Google and get the info and then book from travel agents. Here I have some advice. The travel agent websites that are offering online Afrosiyob tickets are asking for too much money. It is best to do these bookings after arriving into Uzbekistan. Check with your tour agent who has brought you to Uzbekistan. Then confirm from your hotel as to where the Afrosiyob tickets can be booked and at what price. Then make your decision. This way you can avoid getting scammed.
There are three passenger classes on Afrosiyob trains – VIP, Business, and Economy. During my trip in January 2017, the fare printed on my Tashkent <–> Samarkand tickets (purchased by my agent in Uzbekistan) was 58,000 Som for Economy and 78,000 Som for Business Class. These are past fares, and the best way to find out the current fares is to inquire after you have checked into your Uzbek hotel.
Facilities on Afrosiyob Trains
The trains are comfortable A.C. chair cars, with the 2×2 configuration in Economy and 2×1 configuration in Business Class. The doors are automatic, and the toilets are modern and clean. At the train stations, the tickets and passport of foreign tourists are checked before entry to the stations. Railway staff again check tickets at the door of the coach and therefore, there is no ticket checking inside the train.
Each ticket includes a small paper cup of black tea and a snack which is a cream filled bun. This bun contains eggs and hence is not suitable for vegetarians. Other snacks, coffee with milk, etc. can be purchased from the catering staff. Be careful about the prices quoted by the staff on this train. For a small water bottle, the charged me 3000 Som. Later my friend on the other seat bought the same water bottle from them at 2000 Som. We confronted them and they returned the extra 1000 Som. It is a shame that such a thing happened on an otherwise professionally run train service. By the way, this over-pricing and over-charging scam was going on at the Tashkent International Airport too.
It is a bumpy ride even when the train is going slow because the coaches are light-weight and the train does not carry too many people. During most of the journey the train operated at a speed of around 150 km/h. Only briefly it touched 219 km/h. There are LCD displays in the train that continuously show the train speed and ambient temperature. There is a separate dining car in the train but I did not see many people going there.