Work on the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM)project commenced in the late 1970s. The line was intended to supplement the Trans-Siberian and provide Russia with a second rail connection from Siberia to the Asia-Pacific.
BAM’s construction represents an engineering triumph. Stretching nearly 2000 miles (3220km) from Lake Baikal in Siberia to Khabarovski Krai on Russia’s Pacific coast, BAM passes through seven mountain ranges, 11 alpine rivers and areas of high seismic activity. Almost half of the routet , it runs through the permafrost, where winter temperatures can plummet to −76° F (−60° C).
Given the difficult terrain , the construction of BAM presented a significant engineering challenge: 142 bridges (all over 100 metres in length), more than 200 railway stations and sidings, as well as eight tunnels, ( including the Severomuysky Tunnel, which at 15.3 kilometres, is the longest tunnel tunnel in Russia and the fifth longest in the world) had to be built. Over new 60 towns and settlements were established along the route.
Russian Railways views the Baikal-Amur Mainline as an investment in the future of Russia that will significantly increase in the transportation of oil products and exports to the East, provide a boost to the development. of raw materials in the Russian Far East and expand the line’s share in East-West transit traffic.
The first full-length journey across BAM took place in October 1989. A but a much shorter and faster route was opened in December 2003 following the completion of the Severomuysky Tunnel; trains no longer need to switch tracks and make a lengthy and time-consuming detour around a mountain. This has allowed the Company to slash the time and cost of passenger and freight services and bring BAM up to its full capacity. The Severomuysky Tunnel has has also allowed the Company to greatly relieve the pressure on the Trans-Siberian Railway by switching 6 million tonnes of freight a year to BAM.
In July 2004- 30 years after construction began on the Baikal-Amur Mainline –, Russian Railways announced that it would be investing over 30 billion roubles (around USD1 billion at the time) to develop the Transbaikaliya Railway from Karymskaya station to theZabaykalsk border station with China.
The capacity of the Baikal-Amur Mainline is also set to be increased, as the route will be extended south to Komsomolsk. This will entailconstructing constructing a second track, electrifying the extension of the prime section and creating repair facilities for a larger locomotive fleet.