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Bridge of cooperation

Will the island connect with the mainland?

Bridge of cooperation

This closeness has long been teasing the imagination of enterprising people who put forward a seemingly insane idea - to connect the mainland with Sakhalin. And in the future, it is possible to connect through the island by rail with the mainland and Japan. And if the second part of this idea is still going through the department of science fiction, the first has already been included in the agenda. 

Today, Russia on the Pacific coast is locked up by the limited capabilities of several ports in Primorye and the Khabarovsk Territory. Three large transport hubs - Vladivostok, Nakhodkinsky and Vaninsky - have direct access to the Trans-Siberian Railway and the Baikal-Amur Main Line. This opens wide opportunities for the transit of goods from the countries of the Asia-Pacific region to Europe and vice versa.

The other ports are either small or freezing, therefore, at least several months a year are idle. However, it is not yet possible to use the full potential of large transport catch of the Far East. Currently, their common problem is insufficient cargo capacity. One problem with the modernization of ports, port communications and the railway is not to solve this problem.

The throughput capacity of the transport hubs of the Far East will always lag behind the rapidly growing needs of both Russia and its neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region, who need the shortest route to Europe.

Thus, the conclusion suggests itself - the problem can be solved fundamentally by creating a new gate for Russia in the Far East. Where should they be? The answer is clear - on Sakhalin. 

In the south of the island today there are two large non-freezing ports - Kholmsk and Korsakov. They are connected with the railway. At the same time, the capabilities of these ports are not used at full capacity. In order to use them one hundred percent in the interests of Russia and its partners in the APR, it is necessary to implement a project that has been in the air for more than a hundred years. 

The idea of ​​connecting Sakhalin with the mainland was expressed in the XIX century by the researcher of the Far East Gennady Nevelsky. At the beginning of the 20th century, a concrete proposal to build a dam, locks and a seaport in the strait, named after him, appeared. But historical circumstances did not allow us to proceed to a specific consideration of this project. At this time, the supply of Sakhalin and the reception of return cargo went through the ports of Primorsky Krai, where the Trans-Siberian Railway terminated. During the Great Patriotic War, the railway was led to the coast of the Tatar Strait, where the Vanino Sea Trade Port began to be built and expanded. The transport scheme linking the mainland and the island territory has improved markedly. 

The most realistic attempt to connect the island with the mainland by a railway tunnel was made in the middle of the last century. In May 1953, the USSR Council of Ministers adopted a resolution on the start of construction of a railway line between Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Pobedino Station on Sakhalin. The mainland cape of Lazarev on the bank of the Nevelsky Strait was supposed to be connected to the island cape Pogibi by a underwater tunnel. 

On the mainland, 120 kilometers of railroad tracks were laid; it stretched along the right bank of the Amur River from Selikhino station to Black Cape station. At Cape Lazarev, where the tunnel to Sakhalin was supposed to begin, a mine shaft was dug, an artificial island was poured in the strait. However, after the death of Stalin, work on the project was stopped. 

Of course, Sakhalin did not remain without communication with the mainland. The rapid development of the economy of both the Far East and Sakhalin required to solve the transport problem. The answer to this challenge was the creation of a ferry line on the Vanino-Kholmsk line. But today, no one has any doubt that the ferry complex has exhausted its capabilities and cannot provide a stable connection between the island and the mainland. Moreover, it becomes clear that the modernization of the ferry at very high costs for 10 – 20 years will reduce the severity of the transport problem only for Sakhalin, but it doesn’t help to solve the much more important problem of integrating the Russian economy into the Asia-Pacific region. 

A fundamental solution to the problem will be the construction of a railway line with a length of 582 km from Selikhino station in the Khabarovsk Territory to Nysh station on Sakhalin. With the construction of a railway crossing through the Nevelsky Strait. 

According to specialists and experts, only this "option" will provide a stable transport link between Sakhalin and the mainland. This is an important socio-economic and geopolitical challenge. There are three main reasons for its relevance. 

This, as already mentioned, the practical exhaustion of the technical capabilities of the Vanino - Kholmsk ferry. The Railway Transport Design Institute GIPROTRANS-TEI, a branch of the Russian Railways OJSC, has already developed the “Justification of Investments in the Construction of the Mainland Railway Line. Sakhalin with a tunnel (bridge) crossing through the Nevelsky Strait and the development (modernization) of the railway network on. Sakhalin. The implementation of this project is foreseen in the strategies of socio-economic development of the Far East and the Baikal region for the period up to 2025 and the development of railway transport in the Russian Federation up to 2030. The Railway Transport subprogramme of the Federal Target Program for the Development of the Transport System of the Russian Federation (2010 – 2015 years) provides for the start of financing of project work in 2015. The project implementation period is from 2015 to 2030. 

True, according to many analysts who are working on this issue, such terms do not correspond to the existing need. According to forecasts, by 2015, the need for transportation of goods between Sakhalin and the mainland will increase to 6,8 million tons, and by 2025, to 9,2 million tons. It is assumed that the largest volumes of cargo will follow to the mainland - 4,5 and 6,2 million tons, respectively. The projected growth in cargo traffic is mainly associated with an increase in the production and sale of coal mined in the Uglegorsk district of the Sakhalin region, and the need to bring cargo to the island for the construction of new large-scale power generation and processing facilities. 

The second significant factor is the acceleration of the social and economic development of the island and the high investment activity in the Sakhalin Region, which is rapidly becoming the largest oil and gas producing region in Russia and Northeast Asia, with leading foreign corporations with their capital and technology. 

And the third important point that has enormous significance for Russia and all countries of the Asia-Pacific region that need fast and cheap transport links with Europe: the creation of a transport transition between Sakhalin and the mainland opens up tremendous opportunities for transcontinental transit. 

For the Japanese side this project opens up special prospects. The connection of Sakhalin with the mainland displays a project of a bridge between the Land of the Rising Sun and the Russian island from the category of fiction. The kilometer 43 between Sakhalin and Hokkaido is quite a bit. Especially when you consider that Hokkaido, back in 1988, was connected by the world's longest 54-kilometer undersea tunnel "Seikan" to the main Japanese island of Honshu. So it will be "for small" - to connect the Land of the Rising Sun with Russia. In this case, Japan - one of the largest economies in the world - will get direct access to the railway transport infrastructure of Eurasia. 

Recently, answering questions from representatives of Russian and foreign media at a press conference held in the Moscow office of RIA Novosti, the plenipotentiary of the President of the Russian Federation in the Far Eastern Federal District, Minister of the Russian Federation for the Development of the Far East Viktor Ishayev reiterated the need to build a railway and bridge which will link Sakhalin to the mainland. “It is imperative to build a bridge to Sakhalin. This is a wonderful project, ”he said. 

“In the case of the project, it will not be just a“ thread ”that binds Sakhalin and the mainland, but a real“ rope ”. Freight traffic will grow significantly in both directions, and on Sakhalin, prices will drop significantly, ”said Sakhalin Oblast Governor Alexander Khoroshavin. 

“The idea of ​​building a bridge between Sakhalin and the mainland has the right to exist. It would change life on Sakhalin in the most significant way, ”said Dmitry Medvedev, Chairman of the Russian Government, also during his visit to Sakhalin in July this year. 

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