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Trans-Siberian Land Bridge

The geographical position of the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is a major double-track electrified railway line equipped with modern means of information and communication. At 10,000 km, it is the world's longest railway line and a natural extension of International Transport Corridor No. 2.

In the east, the Trans-Siberian provides access to the railway networks of North Korea, China and Mongolia via the border stations Khasan, Grodekovo, Zabaykalsk and Naushki.

In the west, it can access European countries via Russian ports and border crossings with the former republics of the Soviet Union.

The Main Line passes through 20 subjects of the Russian Federation and five federal districts. These resource-rich regions have considerable export and import potential. The regions served by the line produce more than 65% of the coal produced in Russia and handle almost 20% of the country's oil refining and 25% of its commercial timber. More than 80% of Russia's industrial potential and main natural resources are located in these regions, including oil, gas, coal, timber, ferrous and non-ferrous metal ores and others. 87 cities are located along the Trans-Siberian, including 14 which are the centres of subjects of the Russian Federation.

The Trans-Siberian Railway carries more than 50% of Russia's foreign trade and transit freight.

The Trans-Siberian Main Line has also been included as a priority route between Europe and Asia in projects of international organisations, namely the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and the Organisation for Co-operation between Railways (OSJD).

  • See gallery "The History of the Trans-Siberian Railway"

Advantages of transportation on the Trans-Siberian compared to the sea route

  • Reduces the shipping time of goods by more than 2-fold: container trains from China to Finland via the Trans-Siberian take less than 10 days, while the journey by sea is 28 days.
  • Low levels of political risk: up to 90% of the route passes through the territory of the Russian Federation, a state with a stable and democratic system of government, a stable political climate and steadily growing economy.
  • Minimises the number of cargo transshipments, thus reducing the costs of cargo dispatchers and eliminating the risk of accidental damage to goods during handling.

At the moment, a significant part of East - West cargo flows go by sea. A dominant position or near monopoly of shippers in this direction mean that freight dispatchers can expect any reduction in the transport component of their overall costs. Against this background, rail transport is a reasonable economic alternative to sea transport.

The main container train routes along the Trans-Siberian Railway

  • Nakhodka-Vostochnaya Station – Martsevo station (delivery of components from Hyundai Motors Co. from Busan to the car assembly plant in Taganrog).
  • Nakhodka – Moscow.
  • Nakhodka – Brest.
  • Zabaykalsk/Nakhodka – Kaliningrad/Klaipeda.
  • Beijing – Moscow.
  • Kaliningrad/Klaipeda – Moscow (Mercury).
  • Helsinki – Moscow (Northern Lights).
  • Berlin – Moscow (East Wind).
  • Brest – Ulan Bator (Mongolian Vector – 1).
  • Hohhot – Duisburg (Mongolian Vector – 2).
  • Baltic countries – Kazakhstan/Central Asia (Baltic - Transit ).
  • Nakhodka – Alma Ata/Uzbekistan.
  • Brest – Alma Ata (Kazakhstani Vector).

Service

  • The use of modern information technologies ensures complete control over train movement and informs customers in real time about the location, tracking along the whole route and the arrival of containers and cargo at any destination in Russia.
  • Using electronic technology for the declaration of goods: this has reduced the time for cargo inspections from 3 days to just 1.5 hours.
  • Simplified procedures which enable all the containers on container trains to be shipped under a single transport document. This customs practice is now used when transporting components from South Korea to the car assembly plant in Taganrog.
  • Using advanced technology at commercial inspection points which are equipped with modern equipment for monitoring the status of wagons and containers on trains.
  • Monitoring the security and integrity of goods en route.

Prospects for the Trans-Siberian Railway

The Government of the Russian Federation and Russian Railways have developed and implemented a series of measures to further increase the transit potential of the entire transport corridor between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region based around the Trans-Siberian, namely:

  • implementing large-scale investment projects in the eastern part of the Trans-Siberian Railway to ensure the growth of rail transportation and transit between Russia and China;
  • carrying out the necessary development of railway stations on the border with Mongolia, China and North Korea;
  • enhancing the approaches to seaports;
  • modernising container terminals in accordance with international standards.
  • conducting the comprehensive reconstruction of the stretch between Karymskaya – Zabaykalsk to handle increasing volumes of freight traffic to China (mainly oil).

By 2015, Russian Railways plans to invest about 50 billion roubles in the reconstruction of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

In accordance with the "Development Strategy for Rail Transport in the Russian Federation until 2030", it is planned that the Trans-Siberian will concentrate on specialised container trains and passenger traffic.

The Coordinating Council on Trans-Siberian Transportation (CCTT), together with Russian Railways, is preparing a concept for Trans-Siberian transport up to 2020. The concept provides for:

  • the formation of a systematic approach to the development of Trans-Siberian container transportation by rail, across maritime areas and at ports with freight forwarding associations in Europe, Russia, South Korea, Japan and Austria, as well as with freight forwarding companies;
  • the development and application of competitive tariffs for the transportation of foreign and transit freight, taking into account the directions of cargo flows and the conditions of freight transportation on alternative routes;
  • the further improvement of the technology and organisation of transit and foreign freight on the Trans-Siberian route (TSR);
  • the improvement of the conditions and principles of joint activities between railways, shipping companies, ports, freight forwarders and operators and members of the CCTT in order to attract freight to the TSR;
  • ensuring a high quality of service in order to attract traffic to the TSR by internationally coordinating the activities of the participants in Trans-Siberian freight (observing delivery deadlines, maintaining cargo integrity and security);
  • information support of the transportation process along the TSR (providing clients with information in real time about the progress of cargo to its destination);
  • increasing the processing capacity of ports in east and west Russia;
  • creating modern logistics centres with warehouse complexes at the Moscow hub, other industrial centres and in the Far East;
  • the further development of transport links between the countries of Asia, Russia, the CIS, Central and Eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic States.

Trans-Siberian in 7 Days Project

The project Trans-Siberian in 7 Days consists of a wide range of technological measures to ensure the rapid delivery of containers from Russia's Far Eastern ports to the country's western borders.

The project began as an online service called iSales, a system for selling services via the Internet which allows you to minimise the time you spend booking orders to transport goods on the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The iSales internet service is available to any consumer of services for the transportation of goods in containers. iSales greatly simplifies the ordering process and saves the customer's time by functioning like an online store.

This service offers the following features:

  • booking orders on-line;
  • self-assessment of the cost of services by clients themselves;
  • tracking the status of the order's execution and the container's location;
  • browse the archive of booked orders in your personal account;
  • allows you to pay for the services ordered by credit card, which is especially useful for small and medium-sized businesses.

Services can also be bought through the iSales online service for the routes between Moscow – Novosibirsk, Moscow – Irkutsk and Moscow – Khabarovsk. It is planned to expand the routes available through the iSales internet service in the future.

Priorities of the project Trans-Siberian in 7 Days

  • Quality of services.
  • Delivery speed.
  • Regular service and stable transit times.
  • Compliance with fixed timetables, including both the time the train spends en route and its arrival at the final destination.
  • Simple and transparent document flow.
  • Competitive rates on price-delivery time.
  • Flexibility and a customer-facing tariff policy.
  • Stability of tariff policy: tariff validity period: at a minimum, during the calendar year. Providing information in advance about tariff changes (60 days before the date they come into effect).

Technologies used in the project

Technology Methods of implementation
Gradually increasing the route speed of container trains to up to 1,500 km/day
  • Reducing the standing time of fast container trains travelling by timetable to 1 hour when changing the locomotive by improving work efficiency at the locomotive depot;
  • reducing the standing time of fast container trains travelling by timetable when changing the locomotive crew by up to 30 minutes by improving work efficiency at the locomotive depot;
  • reducing the standing time of express container trains travelling by timetable by as much as possible to allow the passage of passenger trains by developing a corresponding timetable;
  • establishing supervisory control for the passage of container trains in order to avoid downtime while waiting for departure and entry or non-admission to a station;
  • combining as far as possible technical service stations and locomotive changing stations.
  • defining freight rolling stock at stations for technical service, changing locomotives, changing locomotive crews for specialised receiving and departure tracks for container trains, establishing the priority of technical and commercial inspections of container trains which last a maximum of 45 minutes at the above-mentioned stations;
  • organising commercial inspections of container trains for the early detection of commercial faults which threaten the safety and security of cargo by means of Automated Train and Wagon Inspection Systems (ATWIS) without stopping (or reducing the number of stops) en route;
  • prioritising the order of effecting repairs and resolving problems which threaten the safety and security of cargo discovered during technical and commercial inspections at stations, as well as en route by using ATWIS;
  • organising pre-briefings for station staff on the need to stop or uncouple wagons from the train to remove technical or commercial problems.

improving rolling stock for container transportation and increased efficiency;

  • Using 80' flatcars for transporting 40' containers: increasing the physical carrying capacity of container trains by 16-25%. The next step in this direction is to develop articulated platforms;
  • developing new fitted platforms and modernising the existing fleet, taking into account trends in the development of the container fleet towards the use of universal and specialised containers with increased holding and load-bearing capacity - primarily 30' and 45' universal containers, 23' and 26' tank containers and 23' interchangeable bodies. New wagon models should have an expanded set of fittings so they can be used effectively for loading containers of any type.

Creating and developing modern document management systems

  • introducing electronic documents between all the participants of the transport process using a formalised set of EDI-notifications and digital signatures for legally important documents and reports;
  • sending preliminary notifications of customs authorities and declaration of goods carried under customs control in accordance with the Russian State Customs Committee's design concept for customs clearance and control in areas close to the state border of the Russian Federation.

Creating transport and logistics infrastructure

  • eliminating infrastructure constraints which slow down container train speeds and affect the maintenance of given route speeds;
  • eliminating speed limits at bottlenecks and on main lines at stations below 80 kph;
  • modernising container terminals and constructing new container terminals capable of receiving complete container trains and ensuring timely and effective train handling, including receiving and loading trains, delivering freight in containers and reloading containers from one train to another.

Legal regulation

  • amending Article 13 of the Federal Law Railway Transport Regulations of the Russian Federation;
  • adopting the rules governing the transportation of goods by rail in universal large and (or) specialised containers that match the parameters of universal containers, as well as empty large-capacity universal and (or) specialised containers in container trains;
  • amending the regulations governing the transportation of goods by rail;
  • amending and supplementing international Agreements on International Goods Transport by Rail to consolidate the concept of the "container train" and its formation and operating conditions;
  • amending the current legislation of the Russian Federation regulating international shipping, including:
  • coordinating with the State Customs Committee (SCC) the issue of documents governing international customs transit (ICT) and domestic customs transit (DCT) without reference to the wagon number;
  • agreement with the SCC on the possibility of completing DCT after delivering containers to the recipient's temporary storage;
  • developing and adopting a separate law on transit shipments through the territory of the Russian Federation.

Tariff Regulation

  • setting tariffs for container transport in the medium term;
  • setting tariffs for container traffic on wagons (container trains);
  • considering the possibility of replacing freight support and protection with freight insurance;
  • setting an economically viable registration fee for the ICT document for transit container transportation.

In order to implement the project Trans-Siberian in 7 Days, Russian Railways has developed a timetable for pilot container trains on the following lines:

  • Martsevo – Nakhodka-Vostochnaya;
  • Vladivostok – Perov;
  • Nakhodka- Vostochnaya – Moscow-Tovarnaya.

When designing the timetable for pilot container trains, standards were agreed for carrying out technical operations which provide for the maximum reduction in the duration and instances of standing time. These include measures such as combining technical operations and increasing the length of the section which each traction unit serves, the working efficiency of locomotive crews and the guaranteed stretches along which the wagons operate.

As a result, the number of technical trains inspections was reduced from 7 to 3, the time available for inspection from 100 to 45 minutes and the number of shift changes among locomotive crews from 33 to 29.

The entire route is divided into sections for which each region is responsible. The average section is 2,289 km and the route speed achieved is 1,362 km/day (56.4 kph).

As a result of the project, as early as 2012 it became possible to deliver cargo from Russia's eastern borders to its western borders in just 7 days. By 2015, it will take just 7 days to cover the distance to Brest in Belarus.

North-South International Transport Corridor

Geographical position of the North-South Corridor

A significant part of the North-South International Transport Corridor (ITC) passes through the territory of Russia. The land section of the North-South corridor runs along Russia's railways from the Finnish border to the Caspian Sea, stretches for about 3,000 km and in the northern sector coincides with ITC No. 9. This main line provides access to the Baltic region, Ukraine and Belarus and from these regions and countries on to the rail network in Eastern and Western Europe.

In developing transit and foreign trade freight flows along the North-South corridor, the core focus is the railway line between Buslovskaya – St. Petersburg – Moscow – Ryazan – Kochetovka – Rtishevo – Saratov – Volgograd – Astrakhan, a distance of 2,513 km.

Russian Railways is working hard to create the necessary infrastructure to handle the growing traffic along this route. In 2004, Russian Railways financed and built a railway line connecting the new international port of Olya on the Caspian Sea to Russia's overall rail network. A new intermodal route was formed that regularly delivers containerised cargo to Iran.

The main advantages of the North-South ITC compared to other routes (in particular, the sea route via the Suez Canal) is that it reduces the transportation distance by twofold or more. The cost of transporting containers from Germany and Finland to India will thus be significantly less than the cost of shipping freight by sea.

Transportation routes of the North-South ITC using different modes of transport

  • Trans-Caspian: via the ports of Astrakhan, Olya and Makhachkala. The participation of railways in this option includes freight delivery to ports and its outward carriage and export.
  • The corridor's eastern branch line: a direct rail link through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan with access to Iran's railway network via the Tejen – Serakhs border crossing.
  • The corridor's western branch line: towards Astrakhan – Makhachkala – Samur, then through Azerbaijan with access to Iran via the Astara border station. Or from Samura across Azerbaijan and Armenia with access to Iran through the Julfa border station.

The creation of the North-South ITC

An intergovernmental agreement on a North-South International Transport Corridor between Russia, Iran and India was signed in St. Petersburg during the second Euro-Asian Conference on Transport on 12 September 2000. In May 2002, the transport ministers of the participating countries signed a protocol on the corridor's official opening in St. Petersburg.

The Islamic Republic of Iran was selected as the depositary country for the Agreement. The ITC North-South governing body is a Coordinating Council (CC) chaired by the member countries on a rotation basis for a period of one year. Two expert groups come under the CC: Commercial and Operational Issues, and Documentation, Customs Procedures and Related Matters.

At the moment, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Oman and Syria have acceded to the Agreement. Turkey and Ukraine have applied for accession.

Purpose of the Agreement on the North-South International Transport Corridor

  • improve the efficiency of transport links for passenger and freight transport along the North-South ITC;
  • facilitate access to the international market for rail, road, sea, river and air transport services of the countries to the agreement;
  • facilitate increased volumes of international passenger and freight transport;
  • ensure vehicle safety and movement, the safety and integrity of goods and environmental protection in accordance with international standards;
  • harmonise transport policy and legal regulation in the transport sphere;
  • establish non-discriminatory access conditions for transport providers on various modes of transport within the North-South ITC.

Measures aimed at achieving the objectives of the North-South ITC Agreement

  • reduce transportation times across the territory of the countries acceding to the Agreement;
  • minimise transit costs;
  • simplify and harmonise all administrative documentation and procedures (including customs) on transit freight across the territories of the participating countries in accordance with accepted international agreements and standards.

Russian Railways is interested in the formation of an integrated railway infrastructure along the North-South International Transport Corridor, namely the creation of a land bridge of about 4,500 km stretching from the Baltic Sea to the port of Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf, which will connect North-West and Central Europe with the countries of the Near and Middle East and South Asia.

According to expert estimates, the North-South ITC's commodity market is forecast to reach 25-26 million tons by 2015.

At the summit of the Caspian littoral states held in Tehran on 16 October 2007, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum on the construction of a new Caspian railway line between Uzen – Gyzylgaya – Bereket – Etrek – Gorgan, to be followed by access to the Russian rail network. The total length of the line will be 670 km (130 km of which will be in Kazakhstan, 470 km in Turkmenistan and 70 km in Iran). It is planned that each of the parties will only finance the construction of the line on its own territory. The new line will be 600 km shorter than the existing link via Serakhs. Construction will take 4-5 years.

The Iranians are constructing a railway line between Qazvin – Rasht – Anzali port with a branch line to Astara and to the border with Azerbaijan.

In addition, a railway line between Bafq – Zahedan is now under construction to provide a direct rail link between Iran and Pakistan. This line will provide access to the North-South corridor and to South Asia without requiring additional transshipment at Iran's ports on the Persian Gulf.

International Transport Corridor No.2

Map ITC No. 2 The main direction of International Transport Corridor (ITC) No. 2: Berlin – Warsaw – Minsk – Moscow – Nizhny Novgorod.

State Participants in ITC No. 2: Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany.

ITC No. 2 was built in order to coordinate the development of transport infrastructure in Europe. In January 1995, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the countries along the corridor, as well as by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), to coordinate the activities of the countries interested in the corridor's development.

At the 3rd International Conference on Transport, which was held on 11-12 September 2003 in Yekaterinburg, the transport ministers of the countries involved appealed to the European Commission for an extension of the corridor to Yekaterinburg. This measure will give ITC No. 2 access to the Trans-Siberian Main Line, which will create an overland route to ensure links between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region and offer a competitive alternative to maritime transport.

On 9 October 2003, Russian Railways and Deutsche Bahn AG signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation in Yekaterinburg stating that the two parties will carry out a number of joint measures to improve the competitiveness of rail transport in order to increase the volume of passenger and freight traffic.

An increase in freight volumes between Russia and Germany is currently being hindered at the borders of four different countries by the different systems of transport law and the complexity of customs and border procedures, as well as by the different gauges in use, namely the 1520 mm broad gauge system in Russia and the 1435 mm narrow gauge width used in Europe. Speeding up border procedures and reducing the time trains spent en route, as well as addressing other organisational problems, will reduce freight delivery times and increase the flow of goods between the two countries.

Through (intermodal) transport along ITC No. 2 can also be organised within the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding and Cooperation.

International Transport Corridor No. 9

Geographical position of ITC No. 9

Rail route of International Transport Corridor No. 9:

Helsinki – Buslovskaya – St. Petersburg – Moscow – Suzemka – Kiev – Lyubashevka (with a branch line to Odessa) – Chisinau – Bucharest – Sofia – Alexandroupolis (with a branch line to Kiev) – Minsk – Vilnius – Kaliningrad/Vilnius – Klaipeda.

States participating in ITC No. 9: Russia, Finland, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece.

The main part of the corridor's Russian section stretches for about 1,313 km, is electrified along its entire length and consists of double-track lines (except for the Vyborg – Buslovskaya section).

Pan-European transport corridor No. 9, in conjunction with ITC No. 2, has great potential to provide transport links between Europe and Asia. The northern part of corridor No. 9 Helsinki – St. Petersburg – Moscow and Kaliningrad – Minsk – Kiev – Moscow provides European countries with access to the Far East and the Asia-Pacific region, Central Asia, the Trans-Caucasus, Iran and other littoral countries of the Persian Gulf, as well as to Pakistan and India.

Creation of International Transport Corridor No. 9

Pan-European transport corridor No. 9 was established in accordance with decisions taken at the 2nd Pan-European Transport Conference held in Crete in March 1994. At about 3,000 km, it is the longest such corridor.

The activities and work of the corridor are carried out under the auspices of the European Commission (EC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).

A memorandum of understanding was signed on the development of corridor No. 9. in Brussels in 1995.

Development of Transport Corridor No. 9

The countries participating in European transport corridor No. 9 have the task of developing its rail infrastructure and increasing its traffic.

Greece, Romania and Bulgaria made ​​a decision to reconstruct their sections along the corridor in order to increase train speeds to up to 200 kph.

In 2005, Bulgaria completed the reconstruction of the 153-km Plovdiv – Svilengrad stretch. As a result, maximum passenger train speeds increased up to 160 kph and, in the case of trains consisting of tilting wagons, up to 200 kph with the possibility of increasing the speed further to 220 kph.

In Romania, the reconstruction of the Ploiesti – Bucharest section has been completed, enabling the maximum speed of passenger trains to be increased to 140 kph and that of freight trains to 95 kph.

High-speed Sapsan trains travelling at 250 kph are now in service on the Moscow – St. Petersburg route. Plans have been developed to offer high-speed train services between St. Petersburg – Helsinki.

Great importance is also being accorded to developing and consolidating other sections of Corridor No. 9, in particular the Moscow – Bryansk – Suzemka stretch, which provides access to Ukraine's railways. Passenger trains began travelling on the Moscow – Suzemka route at a speed of 140kph in August 2005, thus reducing the journey time to 4 hours. In order to ensure such speeds all along the Moscow – Suzemka – Kiev route, work has been carried out to improve the railway line's infrastructure and to refurbish stations and station buildings.

Baikal-Amur Main Line

Geographical position of the Baikal-Amur Main Line

The Baikal-Amur Main Line (BAM) runs through the territory of Irkutsk region, Trans-Baikal Territory, Amur Region, the Republic of Buryatia, Sakha (Yakutia) and Khabarovsk Territory.

Key stations on the BAM:

  • Tayshet;
  • Lena;
  • Taksimo;
  • Tynda;
  • Neryungi;
  • New Urgal;
  • Komsomolsk-on-Amur;
  • Vanino;
  • Sovetskaya Gavan.

The total length of BAM from Taishet to Sovetskaya Gavan is 4,300 km.

BAM is linked with the Trans-Siberian Main Line by three railway lines: Bamovskaya – Tynda, Izvestkovaya – Novyi Urgal and Volochaevka – Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

A double-track railway line has now been built from Taishet to Lena (704 km) and a single-track line from Lena to Taksim (725 km). On the remaining part of the BAM, a single-track railway with diesel traction has been built.

BAM passes through territory characterised by harsh climatic conditions, including permafrost with depths from 1-3 to hundreds of metres, and high seismicity with shocks up 9 on the Richter scale. BAM crosses 11 full-flowing rivers (including the Lena, Amur, Zeya, Vitim, Olekma, Selemdzha and Bureya) and 7 ridges (Baikal, Severomuisky, Udokansky, Kodarsky, Olekminsky Stanovik, Turan and Dusse Alinsky). Due to the difficult terrain, over 30 kilometres of the railway line pass through tunnels (including the 6.7km Baikal tunnel and the 15.3km Severomuisky tunnel.

During the construction of BAM, the latest design, developed and patented new construction and operational methods were used under complex hydraulic and geological conditions.

History of BAM's construction

Construction of the Baikal-Amur

The impulse for the construction of the Baikal-Amur Main Line developed from the disappointing results of the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, which showed the urgent need to build a second lateral railway in Russia's Far East which would duplicate Trans-Siberian Main Line.

According to the original plan, the line was to run from Ufa by the shortest distance to the eastern sea coast via the northern tip of Lake Baikal.

In the Soviet period, research on the development of the railway network in the east of the country resumed in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It was then that the line to the east from Taishet first received its present name of the Baikal-Amur Main Line. It was proposed to begin the line from Urusha station, which lies approximately at BAM's mid-point near Skovorodina, with the terminal station planned for Komsomolsk-on-Amur, which at that time was a Perm village.

In 1932, the People's Commissars adopted a decree "On the Construction of the Baikal-Amur Main Line", which approved the plan for BAM's construction. The construction was scheduled to be completed in three years: through traffic in working operation mode all long the main line was due to begin at the end of 1935.

However, the construction of the line was repeatedly halted for various reasons, such as a lack of manpower, the Great Patriotic War and earthquakes at and near the construction work at the end of the 1950s.

Active construction on the BAM was resumed in 1974 and was largely undertaken by military engineers and volunteers from the Young Communists (Komsomol). Komsomol groups from the various Soviet republics competed with each other and built their "own" objects: the large Urgal station was built by volunteers from the Ukrainian SSR, Muyakan station by Belarussians, Uoyan by Lithuanians, Kichera by Estonians, Tayura by Armenians, Ulkan by Azeri, Soloni by Tajiks and Alonku by Moldovans. Tynda, the capital of the BAM, was built by Muscovites.

By 1980, the management of the Baikal-Amur Main Line was located in Tynda.

On 29 September 1984, a "golden" docking took place at Balbukhta junction in the Kalar district of Chita region, when the BAM's builders in the east and west met after advancing towards each other for 10 years. On 1 October 1984, "golden" links on the BAM were laid at Kuanda station in the Kalar district of Chita region.

Severomuisky tunnel

The completion of the Baikal-Amur Main Line can be considered as 5 December 2003, when the North-Muya tunnel was opened to traffic. At 15,343 metres, the North-Muya tunnel is the longest tunnel in Russia and the fifth-longest in the world. Conditions for the construction of the tunnel were unique, and workers had to contend with permafrost, an abundance of groundwater, talus deposits, landslides and tectonic faults.

BAM now

BAM's construction solved national tasks:

  • opening access to the vast region's natural resources;
  • ensuring transit transport;
  • creating the shortest east-west intercontinental route, running 10,000 km along Russia's railways;
  • in military and strategic terms, the line provides a back-up against possible failures and interruptions in train movement along the Trans-Siberian Railway.

At the moment, BAM's social and economic potential has not been fully realised and Russian Railways does not yet make any profit from operating the line. The main reason for this situation is the slow development of the areas along the line. Of the planned nine territorial and production clusters which were to provide freight on the BAM, only one has been realised, namely the Neryungri coal basin.

On the route between Taishet – Tynda – Komsomolsk-on-Amur, freight amounts to about 12 million tons per annum. Limits on BAM's through capacity are caused by the closure of separate points during the downturn in freight volumes in the 1990s, stretches where repairs have been delayed and defects in the roadbed, track structure and its installations.

BAM carries about 12 million passengers per annum. Passenger traffic on the line is insignificant and amounts to just 1-2 pairs of trains per day on the Komsomolsk – Severobaykalsk stretch and 9-16 pairs in the western sector.

Prospects for BAM's development

BAM's strategic position and the technical and economic potential of the region through which it passes are so great that the railway line will of course be in demand in Russia in the foreseeable future.

Russian Railways has developed a Baikal-Amur Main Line Strategic Development Programme to 2020. It is planned to spend 317.2 billion roubles in 2006 prices on developing the line up to 2020, with 70% of the investment coming from Russian Railways and 30% from an investment fund. These investments will lead to a significant amount of work:

  • construction and rehabilitation of 91 sidings;
  • construction of 800 km of second main track;
  • installing automatic locking equipment on about 700 km of railway lines;
  • extending and constructing 171 receiving-departure tracks;
  • acquiring approximately 750 freight locomotives and about 11,000 freight wagons;
  • reconstructing 85 bridges, 3 tunnels and 650 km of subgrade etc.

This programme was actively used in the development of the "Strategy for the Development of Railway Transport of the Russian Federation until 2030". The strategy forecasts an increase in BAM's traffic volumes due to the growth of industrial production, the development of a number of fields, the construction of a railway line to Yakutsk and the development of the Vanino-Sovgavansky transport hub. It is also planned that BAM will specialise in heavy trains, and the Trans-Siberian in specialised container trains and passenger trains.

The programme "Rail Transport is part of the federal targeted program "Development of Russia's Transport System (2010-2015), which provides for:

  • construction of a new railway line between Tommot – Kerdem – Yakutsk (Nizhny Bestyakh) with a total length of 450 km;
  • plans for a new railway line Selekhin - Nysh with a total length of 582 km.

BAM's main catchment areafor mineral deposits

Deposits which are currently being developed on an industrial scale and play a cargo-generating role in utilising the Baikal-Amur Main Line:

  • Neryungri and Urgalsk coal fields;
  • Korshunov and Rudnogorsk iron ore deposits.

The best-studied deposits with an estimated cost-effectiveness of development:

  • Apsat, Ogodzhinskaya and Elga coal desposits;
  • Chiney, Taiga and Garinsky iron deposits;
  • Udokansky copper deposit;
  • Kuranakh and Katuginskoe polymetallic deposits;
  • Evgenevskoe apatite deposit;
  • Kovykta gas field;
  • Talakanskoye, Verkhnechonskoe, Chayandinskoe, Srednebotuobinskoye, Yarakta, Dulisminskoye, Ayan and Adnikanskoe oil and gas fields.

The development of these fields requires the development of transport infrastructure.

Promising fields that require further exploration and an evaluation of the economic benefit of the development:

  • Neryundinskoye, Kapaevskoye, Polivskoye iron ore deposits;
  • Khlodnenskoe and Shamanic polymetallic deposits;
  • Golevskoe synnyrite deposits;
  • Ukduska and Seligdarskoye apatite deposits;
  • Nepa potash basin.