( 01.01.1975 - 1980 )

[as of 2014 ]

A webpage on the unique rural trolleybus line that operated in Novaya Bukhtarma, Kazakhstan.


Founded: late 1950s
Incorporated: 1976
Population: 5 591 (2009)
Location: Novaya Bukhtarma

A small town located in the Vostochno-Kazakhskaya Region (the Eastern Khazakhstan Region), on the banks of the Bukhtarminskoe reservoir. The Bukhtarminskiy Cement Works (earlier known as the Ust-Kamenogorskiy Cement Works) is the main employer in the town. The plant is located 5 km. to the east of the town, in the neighboring valley, accessible via the mountain pass. During the Soviet times the town was considered an exemplary showcase of the civil infrastructure development, thanks to a progressive-minded long time director of the cement works Anatoliy Grigoryevich Kosoy, who was at the helm of the plant between 1971-1997.

Network Stats

Operator: Ust-Kamenogorskiy Tsementniy Zavod (Cement Works)

System operated: 01.01.1975 - 1980
Overhead length: 9,8. km. (one-way)
Number of routes: 1
Number of passenger vehicles: 4
Network map: 1975-1980

Trolleybuses operated between the Solnechniy Terminal in the town of Novaya Bukhtarma and Tsemzavod (the Cement Works) between 01.01.1975-1980. The idea to build a trolleybus line belonged to Mr. Kosoy, the director of the Ust-Kamenogorsk (nowadays Bukhtarminsky) Cement Works, who was also an officially recognized inventor. This decision, however, was not purely environmentally-minded or pro-trolleybus, but was rather made due to unavailability of diesel buses at the time. According to a 2014 interview with Mr. Kosoy, upon his complaints about chronic commute problems experienced by the workers at the cement plant, the Kazakh Soviet Republic’s party bosses couldn’t offer diesel buses, however, they did offer excess trolleybuses that were incidentally readily available, perhaps as a joke. In response Mr. Kosoy accepted the challenge.

The design specifications for the trolleybus line were developed by the Novosibirsk division of the Giprotsement Science and Research Institute. The original design called for a trolleybus line to follow an 865 m. long segment of the federal intercity Ust-Kamenogorsk – Zyryanovsk highway around the marker 106 km.; to cross a non-electrified main intercity Zaschita – Zyryanovsk railroad line at the marker 113 km.; to cross a railroad communication line and a high voltage power transmission line; to enter the cement works property through the check point; and to cross yet another plant access railroad line. A terminal loop was to be built in-front of the main cement works administration building, near the plant’s truck shop shed (see the documentation attached below). The design specifications included an option for a turnaround at the cement work’s turnoff on the intercity highway, just short of the plant’s property line, in case if trolleybuses wouldn’t be allowed to cross the railroad main line. The design specifications also called for rebuilding of the segment of the intercity highway that was to be used by trolleybuses. The date for construction work to be finished was set at 01.07.1974.

Upon project’s implementation, the local DOT didn’t allow trolleybuses to use or to even cross the federal intercity highway, citing safety concerns. In addition, the railroad carrier didn’t allow trolleybuses to crass the railroad mainline, citing clearance issues due to the line’s strategic military importance (it was to be used to haul missiles in case of a war). Moreover, the inner roadways of the cement plant were used by oversized BelAZ trucks. Consequently, a separate trolleybus-only 850 m. long roadway was built parallel to the intercity highway. A trolleybus loop was built on the side of the highway, near the cement work’s turnoff, outside of the plant’s property line, however, without crossing the highway itself. The trolleybus terminal ended up being located 900 m. short of the cement works buildings. The line’s construction continued between 05.1974-11.1974. The line was officially completed on 28.12.1974. Trolleybus operation commenced on 01.01.1975.

According to the original design specifications, the overhead support poles were to be made of reinforced steel-concrete. During the construction, however, structural problems were found with newly delivered poles, so steel tube support poles were partially used instead. A single module power substation was built at the tip of the mountain pass, at the point of the highest power demand. The substation was designed to be able to support up to two trolleybuses following one another. There was no depot. Trolleybuses were stored at terminals overnight. Trolleybus’s maintenance was done at the plant’s truck shops.

Due to the trolleybus line’s layout, cement plant’s workers were forced to walk substantial distances between the plant and the trolleybus terminal. This included walks after taking the required shower after the shift, often in local infamous inclement weather. In 1980 trolleybuses were replaced with diesel buses due to an unusually high percentage of sick days among workers. Diesel buses did deliver workers directly to the plant’s facilities within the property.

The trolleybus overhead was dismantled in 1993, however, some overhead support poles remained standing for some time after that. The last few poles alongside the suburban segment of the line were dismantled in 2014. Nevertheless, some former overhead support poles could be found alongside the streets within the town limits.

Rolling Stock

A total of 4 cars:
ZiU-682B 130-133 (1973)

4 trolleybuses of ZiU-682B type were in white livery with a red “skirt” at the base. Upon system’s closure 2 vehicles were sent to the city of Alma-Ata (Almaty). The 2 remaining trolleybuses were stored at the cement plant’s truck shop shed for a prolonged period of time, and were later scrapped. They were last seen at the shed in the summer of 1995, mostly intact.




Last updated: 7-Oct-2014
© 2002 Author: Yury Maller - Usage of material found herein for public display is possible with authors' permission only.