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Plus rails, minus tons

What railway infrastructure facilities does the Far East need?

Modernization of BAM and Transsib will remain among the priorities of Russian Railways until 2025, it was announced at a meeting of the Russian government on November 8. East Russia figured out which directions of transportation in the Far East can receive financial injections for further growth in cargo traffic.

Plus rails, minus tons
Photo: Igor Mikhailov
Over the past five years, which is the modernization of the infrastructure of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur Highways (Eastern Polygon), cargo transportation by rail to the Far Eastern seaports has increased from 80 million tons in 2013 to 101,4 million tons in 2017. As Oleg Belozerov, head of Russian Railways, noted, over the past three years, the freight turnover of rail transport in the Far East has grown by more than 20%, however, today all of its carrying capacity in the region has been exhausted. In addition, forecasts suggest a further increase in volumes. 

According to the forecast of the Institute “Dalgiprotrans”, rail transportation to the ports of Primorye, which last year amounted to 72 million tons, will increase to 2020 million tons in 88,1, and to 2025 million in 115. . In 2017, the stevedores of the Vanino-Sovgavansky hub received a million tons of cargo from the 27,1 railway. In 2020 and 2025, shipments to their address can amount to 40,6 and 74,2 million tons, respectively.

So far, there is a preliminary draft of a long-term program for the development of Russian Railways to 2025, which will be approved by the Russian government. As the head of the Ministry of Transport, Yevgeny Dietrich, said, it was his task to finalize it by December 1. At the same time, it is known that the financing limit of the Far-Eastern Railways within the framework of stage II of the Eastern polygon may roughly amount to 336 billion rubles. At the same time, most of the investments are planned to be mastered within the Khabarovsk Territory. Order 150 billion rubles. will go to the construction of the second track on the Komsomolsk - Vanino section and electrify the entire line from Volochaevka-2 station to Vanino (the length is more than 770 km).

If we talk about Transsib, the most capital-intensive objects are scheduled in Primorye. These are the Ussuriisk - Nakhodka and Baranovsky - Khasan sections, for the reconstruction of which it is proposed to allocate approximately 22 billion rubles. So, on the line Ussuriisk - Nakhodka to build a bypass section Shkotovo - Smolyaninovo. Today, on this pass, the movement of freight trains is carried out by a nudging locomotive; in addition, the weight of the train has to be broken. Laying a more hollow section of the track will allow you to get away from this, thus the railway will receive a significant reserve in passing the train to the existing terminals of the Nakhodka junction (plans to increase coal processing were announced, in particular, by Vostochny Port JSC, Astafyev Terminal LLC) to the new, on the territory of Shkotovsky district, the ports of Vera and Sukhodol.

Reconstruction of the Baranovsky - Hassan line with a length of 238 km is also necessary for providing foreign trade traffic. For example, transportation of export coal through the Posyet port may increase from last year’s 5,9 million tonnes to 13,4 million tonnes in the 2025 year. As expected, transportation to the North Korean port of Rajin via the border crossing point Hasan-Tumangan, which came under sanctions against the DPRK, will soon resume. In addition, the authorities of North and South Korea are contacting today on the issue of organizing train traffic throughout the Korean Peninsula. “This year we will begin the restoration of the railway. According to our calculations, it will take three years, after that the railway will connect with Transsib and our trains will go through Russia to Europe, ”Vice Governor of the South Korean province of Gangwon Chon Man Ho said recently in Vladivostok. 

The transit of goods from the Republic of Korea to Europe through the Slavyanka is also being considered, which will also affect the loading of the Baranovsky-Khasan section. Currently, Hyundai Engineering is preparing a feasibility study for the reconstruction of this port.

According to the head of the economic cooperation committee on the northern direction of South Korea Kwon Koo-hoon, a test cargo with a high speed of delivery was carried out this year. The container from the South Korean was delivered to the seaside port and then along the Trans-Siberian Railway reached St. Petersburg. The entire journey took 15 days instead of 40 days through the Suez Canal.

The organization of Chinese transit along the Primorye-2 international transport corridor (ITC) also depends on the capabilities of the Baranovsky-Hasan section. It is worth saying that the development of the ITC was one of the main topics of the 23-th regular meeting of the heads of government of Russia and China, held in Beijing in early November. “We will expand cooperation on the creation of multi-modal, end-to-end, seamless logistics corridors, solving the task of increasing transit, primarily containers, along the Europe-Western China corridor. We agreed that additional efforts should be made to develop the Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 projects, said after the talks, Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov.

He did not name any specific transit volumes. It is known that in the first half of the year, they are significantly less than last year’s indicators in the Primorye-1. In January-July, 2,1 thousand TEU (containers in 20-feet) were transported here, whereas over the same period 2017 of the year - 4,8 thousand. The Chinese side explained the decline in the cost of container processing services in the port of Vladivostok and lower tariffs for stevedoring operations in the ports of China and South Korea. From here, the fate of another border direction Vozdvizhensky - Grodekovo (length is almost 100 km), which belongs to the Primorye-1 MTC, is not clear. To date, the site has almost reached the limit of its load. Of the eight stations of this line, only three can receive trains with a standardized for Transsib with a composition of at least 71 conditional car, the rest require lengthening of receiving and departure routes. 

However, starting next year, transportation through this crossing may be reduced due to the barriers imposed by the Russian government on the export of roundwood (forest cargo occupies 60-70% of the turnover of the checkpoint). Now the export duty is 25%, but next year it will increase to 40%, and in 2021-m - to 80%. According to the chairman of the association "Daleksportles" Alexander Sidorenko, almost half of the shippers in the region will not be able to export the forest under the new rules. In addition, in the 2019, the new Nizhneleninskoe-Tongjiang bridge should open, as expected in the direction of the Far Eastern Railway, this will lead to a partial redistribution of the existing freight traffic. Does it make any sense to invest in infrastructure in this connection, moreover, when there are no clear guarantees from China in terms of transit volumes, it is not very clear.
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