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Is the bridge to Sakhalin going to Japan?

The only condition for profitability of the transition from the mainland to Sakhalin is the construction of a further route to Hokkaido

The idea of ​​connecting Sakhalin with the mainland by reliable transport communication on the one hand, does not lose its relevance, and on the other - dizziness. But there is still a realistic economic justification for the multibillion-dollar project of creating a bridge (tunnel) transition of the mainland-island.

Is the bridge to Sakhalin going to Japan?
The theme of the construction of the Sakhalin-Mainland railway transition is again raised at the state level. The reason was the question of his fate, given to the president of the country 15 June during the annual "Direct Line". Then Vladimir Putin recalled that this idea sounds from the beginning of the 20 century: "Iosif Vissarionovich also thought about this. And even the corresponding plans were built, but they were never implemented. Now we are engaged in reanimating these plans, we are thinking about this problem. " In what "resuscitation" is expressed, the head of state did not explain.

The project for the transition between Sakhalin and the mainland of Russia, which would have presented the amount of its financing and the payback period, has not yet been prepared, said Yuri Trutnev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation - Plenipotentiary in the Far Eastern Federal District, on July 18 in an interview with the media. “As for the bridge to Sakhalin. I am used to talking about projects when they are laid out, when we understand the amount of financing, we understand the payback period, this project is not yet in this form, ”he said (quoted by TASS). Yuri Trutnev added that this project is interesting to the inhabitants of the island, at the same time he proposed to submit it for real discussion as soon as he was ready.

According to the Sakhalin governor Oleg Kozhemyako, the transition from Sakhalin to the mainland could be a great achievement for the region and a breakthrough in its economic development. “Today we deliver almost all consumer goods, building materials, food products by sea. These are additional costs. All this falls on the cost of food and services that Sakhalin and Kuril residents receive. The construction of the bridge would have a significant impact on the speed of delivery, product quality, and its cost, ”he said.

In the creation of such an object are also interested in the Khabarovsk Territory. The bridge or tunnel passage to Sakhalin is only one of the components of this project. The length of the entire railway between the stations Selikhin and Nysh, including the construction that will connect the two banks of the Nevelskoy Strait, is 582 km. Most of the highway will pass through the Khabarovsk Territory. As noted in the regional government, the arrival of the railway in Ulchi, Nikolaevsky districts will give an opportunity to develop additional reserves of gold, alunite, and brown coal. At the same time, a number of deposits can be transferred to the category of industrial facilities. There are also prospects for intensification of timber processing in the region. Harvested timber can be delivered by rail from the northern regions of the region to Amursk (Myalka station), where a cluster for the production of various products from wood is organized.

The cost of the Selikhin-Nysh road is tentatively estimated at 400 billion rubles, the first vice-president of JSC Russian Railways Alexander Misharin said in July on the sidelines of the forum "Innoprom" in Yekaterinburg. Most likely, he voiced the old data. Several years ago, a group of domestic transport institutions developed a draft technical assignment for the construction of a railway line. The draft of the entire report, taking into account the bridge and tunnel construction, was estimated in prices at the beginning of 2013 year at 386,6 billion and 387 billion rubles, respectively. With almost the same cost of options, the terms of the construction work are different: 7,5 years would take the construction line along with the bridge and 9 years - with the laying of the tunnel.

It seems that the most correct figures, taking into account inflation and the depreciation of the ruble for the last crisis, were voiced by Vladimir Putin in the course of the "Direct Line", but only for one object. According to him, for the erection of a bridge crossing, it will be necessary in advance to need about 286 billion rubles. (Four years ago, these works were estimated at 188,8 billion rubles). The president of the Russian Federation specified that the cost of the bridge to the island would be lower than the crossing over the Kerch Strait, and a tunnel could be built instead.

At one time, the consortium of transport institutions in the development of the draft terms of reference considered 14 options for the establishment of the mainland-Sakhalin transition, including, in addition to the tunnel, even the possibility of erecting a dam with a culvert. From the point of view of construction, operation and associated risks, the construction of a railway bridge from Cape Lazarev (middle reaches) to Cape Pogibi is considered the most optimal. This is the narrowest part of the strait between the mainland and the island, the length of the object will be a little less than 6 km. The length of the usual span structures of the bridge will be 110 m, and above the shipping line - 330 m.

The optimal length of the tunnel is 12,5 km. According to Alexei Vasilkov, Deputy Director General of the Giprostroymost Institute, this structure would limit the capacity of the entire line in the event of an increase in traffic from the baseline scenario of traffic size. In turn, noted in RZD, it is advisable to carry out transportation through tunnel tunnel of this extent with electric traction, whereas the entire Selikhin-Nysh section is thought to be not electrified. To change the diesel locomotive for electric locomotives when entering the tunnel and vice versa is also to limit the passage of the train traffic plus increase the operating costs and the cost of all transportation of goods and passengers on a new message.

It is worth mentioning that the issue of electrification of the Volochaevka-2-Komsomolsk-Selikhin-Vanino line is now being considered. True, this is necessary depending on the stages of the project, roughly from 64,7 billion to 99,1 billion rubles. And construction work will take at least nine years.

The issue of loading and, as a consequence, the recoupment of the Selikhin-Nysh route is a cornerstone. “We are currently using three rail ferries. In addition, ferry ships carry out road transport. Accordingly, on average 25-28 wagons are transferred to Sakhalin per day. This is a small figure - the cargo turnover there (the Vanino - Kholmsk crossing, - EastRussia commentary) does not exceed 1 million tons, ”says Igor Filatov, First Deputy Head of the Far Eastern Railway.

At the same time, he continues, now the coal industry has been activated on the island, exporting its products. A large coal-mining section is being developed near the station Pobedino. Near the station of Ilyinsk, Sakhalinskaya GRES is being built, which will consume a large volume of coal. "Therefore, rail transport on Sakhalin will be in demand unequivocally", - summarizes Igor Filatov.

The emergence of direct rail communication would entail the development of existing port facilities in Poronaisk, Nevelsk, Korsakov. "In this case, the seaports of Primorye will be unloaded from the transportation of cargo going to Sakhalin, Kamchatka and Magadan Oblast, which will allow them to be effectively used for transshipment of export-import cargoes," said Andrei Serenko, director of the Transport Construction Institute of the Far Eastern State Transport University.

According to the Institute of Transport Economics and Development, with the advent of the continent-island transition, which will accelerate the development of the Khabarovsk Territory and the Sakhalin region, shipments along the Selikhin-Nysh line can increase to 9,2 million tons per year. This is not enough, therefore, experts propose to bring in transit to Japan from the BAM and Trans-Siberian route. If Sakhalin is connected to the Japanese island of Hokkaido (the tunnel is considered as an object), a transcontinental corridor Japan-Russia-EU will emerge, which will provide additional inflow of cargo, mainly containers, and help pay back the project. In this case, annual transportation, according to various estimates, can increase to 33-40 million tons.

According to Alexander Misharin, RZD and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport of Japan created a working group to work out a project to create a transport transition between the countries, part of which will be the communication with Sakhalin.

It should be said, with the support of the Coordinating Council for Trans-Siberian Transportation, at the end of 2016, a test dispatch of a container from Yokohama to Moscow via the Vostochny port was organized. The operator was TransContainer when using the FESCO service for the sea part of cargo transportation. As was noted by the Japanese side on the results of the experienced trip, both in terms of the cost of the integrated service and the total time for transportation, which is of the order of 20 days, the offered service proved to be competitive in that the delivery is carried out by the round-the-sea route through the Suez Canal (deep-sea) . Transportation under this scheme from Japan to the ports of the Baltic is about 45-50 days. At the same time, Japanese partners were invited to continue working on the possibility of optimizing the service through Russia, including by time, cost and technology to determine the most optimal option.

The question is to what extent Japan is interested in the direct railway communication, argues independent expert Alexander Redko. Today, most of the cargo traffic from the Land of the Rising Sun follows to the European countries by deep-sea. And in Japan, the local lobby is heavily represented by shipping carriers. Although, the expert continues, certain Japanese circles do have an interest in the transit possibilities of the Russian transport system.

If we talk about the variant of transportation through Sakhalin, additional means will be needed to develop the Japanese cargo traffic, not counting the investments in creating an underwater crossing between the countries. At the first stage, while the tunnel of Laperuz will be laid along the tunnel of length 42 km, it is supposed to send cargoes from the Wakkanai port by sea to Korsakov with further reloading to the railway. With the opening of the tunnel construction will require the construction of a railway section from Cape Krillon - the southernmost point of Sakhalin - to the nearest station Dachnoe. This requires at least 43,7 billion rubles.

Apparently, the funds for the Sakhalin project will be enormous. On the other hand, various logistics schemes are now developing in the provision of transit between Asia and Europe. The leadership of RZhD previously indicated the need to study the impact on the Sakhalin route of alternative transport corridors, primarily the Chinese Silk Road, as well as the Arctic Northern Sea Route. Scientific institutions need to update the cargo base, taking into account the possible competition for promising freight flows. About the need to calculate the prospective volume of traffic that will go from Japan through Russia to Europe and vice versa, said Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov.

There is time for research. In the "Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation", approved by the RF Government Resolution in July 2014, the main measures for the innovative option envisage the construction of the Selikhin-Nysh line in the period after ... 2030. 

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