Will Baikal-Amur Mainline be the Construction Project of the Century Again?

Will Baikal-Amur Mainline be the Construction Project of the Century Again?

Photo: http://ria.ru

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin made a working trip to the Siberian Federal District. As a result, increasing the capacity of the two railways, the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) and the Trans-Siberian Railroad (Transsib), was named as one of his priorities.

"It is necessary to work out a quarterly schedule for implementation phases of construction works in phases to expand the carrying capacity of BAM and Trans-Siberian Railway as soon as possible. We have to prepare all the decisions and report to the President. It should be a very specific document with strict deadlines for each section," Mishustin said at a meeting where issues of coal transportation from the Kemerovo region were discussed.

According to the Prime Minister, the government would allocate 780 bln rubles ($10.26 bln) for development of main railway arteries of Siberia by 2024. These funds will be used to build a total of about 2,000 km of tracks, as well as to create logistics sites and infrastructure facilities for various purposes.

By 2024, estimated traffic volume on the BAM and Transsib should be increased by one and a half times, to 180 mln tones. According to the plan, in 2025, it will reach 210 mln tonnes.

"We need a solid plan," Mishustin said. "Not only the railways workers, but also by businesses, regions and all those interested in developing their projects around the BAM and the Transsib railway will use it. “

Vitaly Savelyev, the Russian Transport Minister, said that the computations related to carrying capacities and the freight traffic capacity as well as acceptable load of freight trains were almost finalized.

Current Situation

For today, the Trans-Siberian railway consists of two railway lines of about 10,000 km in length. It's connected by three connecting lines to the Baikal-Amur Mainline, most of which is single-track. On the Trans-Siberian railway, 190 km of railway tracks have had an overhaul. In 2020, the reconstruction of the BAM tracks will span 330 km in total. Out of 144 transport facilities, 34 have already been built. One of them is the Naryanga interchange in the Irkutsk region. It doubled the capacity of the Takovka-Nebel section from 22 to 40 pairs of freight trains.

Part of the BAM’s second line crosses the Baikal natural area. This is why the government's plans to build another branch line to run along the shore of Lake Baikal caused protests from the environmentalists and locals.

Last year, Vladimir Putin signed a law on the clean-cutting of forest for laying the tracks. It raised concerns among the defenders of Lake Baikal that this law would lead to the complete clearing of the taiga around the lake. The railway authorities assure that only a cut for the second line will be done. The local authorities offer the environmental organizations to cooperate and control the fulfillment of these promises.

In addition, experts from the Russian Railways (RZD) state corporation have developed an environmental conservation programme. In addition to track laying and repairs, the RZD company is building state-of-the-art treatment facilities and installing wheel-washing stations for cars. The project involves cleaning 360 kilometres of the shoreline of Lake Baikal, and planning waste collection sites and composting toilets. It is also planned to plant trees in amounts hugely exceeding the technological cuttings.

Why expand the BAM and the Trans-Siberian railway

One of the main goals of modernization is to increase the haulage of coal, which remains one of the most popular fuels in the world despite the development of "green energy". In particular, development of the Kuznetsk coal basin is planned.

At a meeting with members of the Kemerovo regional government, Mishustin signed a socio-economic development project through to 2024, as well as a document outlining the prospects for increasing the shipment of coal mined in the region. The Kemerovo Region will receive over 50 billion rubles to implement the programme, which will be used to build and repair roads, build housing to resettle people from the emergency houses, and upgrade an airport. The proposed measures should improve the living standards and attractiveness of the region, especially for young people who are now seeking to leave it.

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