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Wider BAM!

BAM needs a download. BAM needs a reboot. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Government Marat Khusnullin, who has become the curator of this direction since the beginning of 2021, talks about what needs to be done on the highway.

This year, the second stage of modernization of the Eastern range of the Russian Railways begins. In fact, we are talking about the expansion of the Baikal-Amur Mainline, built in the Soviet years. For its greater extent, it is a non-electrified single track with still wooden sleepers, crossings and dead ends. The East Russia correspondent analyzed the results of Marat Khusnullin's visit and collected expert opinions on the new super-project BAM-2.

Wider BAM!
Photo: @maratkhusnullin_

Revision on Motris

Deputy Chairman Khusnullin's large Far East tour began with the first launch this year from the Vostochny cosmodrome. Then there were meetings on the development of the Amur Region, the construction of a gas processing plant in the city of Svobodny. The railway part of Marat Shakirzyanovich's trip started at the Belogorsk station. Here, a high-ranking official was touched by a monument to the leader of the world proletariat that has survived from Soviet times.

“Another purpose of the trip to the Far East is the development of the BAM and Transsib - the so-called Vostochny training ground. I will personally inspect him on the train and hold meetings on the way. In the future, I want to drive it all. This time, the very first stop - the Belogorsk station - pleases with a monument to Lenin. What is not a reason to revive the tradition again! " - wrote Khusnullin on his Instagram.

BAM, although it was conceived by engineering minds as a supplement to the Trans-Siberian transport artery in the east of the country back in the days of "tsarism", is wholly and completely a legacy of the Soviet era. It began to be built twice: in the 30s of the last century, but the project was interrupted by the Great Patriotic War and most of the assembled tracks were dismantled and sent to the front for the construction of rockade railways. In the 70s, the all-Union construction of the BAM began. The republics, territories, regions of the largest country in the world erected a highway in sections, while building capital settlements (Alonka in the Verkhnebureinsky district, for example, the heritage of Moldova, New Urgal is a gift from the Donetsk region of the Ukrainian SSR, and Soloni is a Tajik one).

“It just so happened that in the Soviet years only one branch of the BAM was built. Because even at the time when the whole country was building, it was a very difficult task. And now we need to actually build the second line of BAM, ”Marat Khusnullin explained to reporters during his briefing in Khabarovsk following his trip to the Eastern Range.

Photo: @maratkhusnullin_

During the trip to the Far Eastern Railway, Marat Khusnullin was accompanied by the leadership of the Russian Railways, the Acting Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory Mikhail Degtyarev. For some reason, they decided not to take the journalists, they did not even invite the employees of the press service of the regional government. What they saw, what decisions were made, we had to follow on the social networks of Khusnullin and Degtyarev. Fortunately, both are active bloggers.

“Today I have been working at the Vostochny training ground all day! On Motris we went by rail, I want to see the route with my own eyes. We visited the stations Selikhin and Eldigan, "wrote the deputy chairman of the Russian government, going to inspect the reconstruction of the BAM in the Komsomolsk region.

Photo: @maratkhusnullin_

“Together with the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Marat Khusnullin, we examined the potential construction site of the second Kuznetsovsky tunnel from a height. This is a strategically important facility for the economy of the Far East, envisaged as part of the expansion of the Eastern range of Russian Railways. Let me remind you that the Kuznetsovsky tunnel is located on the BAM Oune - Vysokogornaya section. Initially, the tunnel was built here during the war, a new one was commissioned at the end of 2012. This made it possible to increase the volume of shipments in the direction of our ports of Vanino and Sovetskaya Gavan, ”commented on his video from the helicopter of the Acting Governor of the Khabarovsk Territory in the Telegram channel“ Machine gun Degtyarev ”.

As explained in the press service of the Far Eastern Railway following the visit of Marat Khusnullin and the leadership of Russian Railways to the Eastern polygon, during the trip they discussed the construction of a second track along the entire length of the Komsomolsk-on-Amur-Vanino line and the prospects for electrification of the Volochaevka-2-Komsomolsk- Sortirovochny and Komsomolsk-Sortirovochny - Vanino. It is planned to complete work and launch electric locomotives in these directions in 2024.

Road to nowhere?

Vladimir Putin set the task to accelerate work on expanding the throughput of the Eastern range of Russian Railways. Last year, according to the state monopoly, it was possible to transport 144 million tons of cargo along the BAM. By 2024, this figure should reach 180 million tons.

“I came to see the development of the Eastern Test Site on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, how to speed up the construction time and traffic volumes as much as possible. Because the development of the economy of all Siberia and the Far East depends on this, ”said Marat Khusnullin at a meeting with Mikhail Degtyarev.

According to the available information, the modernization of BAM is not as good as Russian Railways reports. Last year, out of a hundred billion rubles for these purposes, they could not master 20 - they postponed the current year. Obviously, coronavirus - there are not enough workers. After all, as Marat Khusnullin admitted in Khabarovsk, all construction projects in Russia today are based on immigrants from the fraternal republics. And the implementation of many projects, including at the BAM, depends on how soon the epidemiological situation will open the borders. At the end of 2019, at the highest level, they started talking about attracting military builders to the Eastern training ground. It was they, mainly, who built the current branch of the Baikal-Amur Mainline through the territory of the Khabarovsk Territory. The Ministry of Defense even conducted a reconnaissance of the area, but so far nothing has been heard about the involvement of the military in the construction.

Photo: Far Eastern Railway

“In fact, the expansion of the eastern route on the BAM and the branches adjacent to the highway is a matter of honor for the leadership of the state corporation Russian Railways. Only I get the impression that at the top, the issues of the development of the Far East as a whole are still really interesting to the only person - President Vladimir Putin. For the Russian elite, all these modernization programs are just an excuse to use budgets and get contracts. It is necessary to change the attitude of the elite towards BAM and the entire region. So that they see people living here behind all these programs, '' Doctor of Economics, Professor Vadim Zausaev said in an interview with EastRussia. - In the 90s, the BAM, built in the form of a one-track, was suddenly called a road to nowhere from the high stands. Like, it was a mistake of the Soviet leadership to lay the highway in the most difficult conditions. No matter how history repeats itself. But excuse me! There would be no BAM now, it would be impossible to start developing the richest coal deposits in southern Yakutia, the same Elginsky. "

At the same time, Professor Zausaev believes that the relevance of the accelerated development of the Eastern range of Russian Railways was clearly shown by the history of the recent blockage of the Suez Canal. As a reminder, on March 23, a huge 400-metro-long container ship Ever Given ran aground and blocked traffic on one of the world's key sea routes from Asia to Europe and back for almost a week. Losses amounted to billions of US dollars.

“Yes, there is also the Northern Sea Route. But it is still at the initial stage of development. Icebreaker escorting ships is expensive anyway. We are not yet using the existing land corridor along the Trans-Siberian and BAM. Our main competitor in this is China. On their railways through the western provinces of the country, Kazakhstan and further to Europe, the time for cargo to travel 10 thousand kilometers is about 6 days. In our country, the same distance is covered in 15-16 days. And the point is not only in the absence of a second track on the BAM. The Transsib is double-tracked and electrified along its entire length. Maybe you should think about improving the efficiency of logistics organization, traffic management, accelerating the processes of unloading and unloading? " - asks Vadim Zausaev.

The great coal road

As the deputy chairman of the Russian government Marat Khusnullin said after his inspection of the Eastern range of Russian Railways in the Khabarovsk Territory, the development of the BAM is impossible without the modernization and expansion of the port infrastructure of the ports of the Vaninsko-Sovgavansky transport hub. Only now, many residents of coastal settlements look at these plans of the country's leadership with fear for their health and well-being.

At the same March meeting, where Vladimir Putin spoke about the need for accelerated modernization of the Eastern landfill (for a minute, the meeting itself was devoted to the development of the coal industry), the expansion of BAM was linked to the need to increase coal exports to the Asia-Pacific countries through Vanino and Sovetskaya Gavan.

Photo: JSC "Russian Railways"

“I instruct the government to strictly fix the stages of construction and the parameters of the expansion of the BAM and Transsib. In 2018, they started talking - now we see that there are problems, they persist. And we need to do what I just said, indicating the throughput and carrying capacity of not everything in general, but individual sections, as well as the maximum weight of a freight train before and after the implementation of the project, the head of state said. - I also instruct the government to submit additional proposals for expanding the eastern section of the BAM. It is about increasing the export of coal from Yakutia to the east. I ask you to work out the mechanisms for financing this project, including the possibilities of the National Wealth Fund, if this is, of course, necessary. In any case, I want to say that I will have nothing against it ”.

Meanwhile, both in Vanino and in Sovetskaya Gavan, serious passions are already boiling over the plans of already operating coal transshipment enterprises to expand production. In public discussions about the plans of the Daltransugol company to increase the transshipment of coal, local environmental activists strongly opposed it. In social networks there are groups "No to coal", "Stop, terminal" and many others.

“You see, coal dust on our coast has already become a 'talk of the town', we are tired of living with black ice, black beaches, black air. The seaport located within the boundaries of Vanino is dusty, which is simply not suitable for transshipment of coal. I myself work there, I see that no snow cannons can save them, ”says Alexander Yegorov, a docker, head of the Russian trade union organization Porta Vanino and an activist of the environmental initiative group. Daltransugol seems to be engaged in closed coal transshipment. Yes, it is indeed loaded from wagons onto a conveyor belt in covered workshops, but a stacker that loads coal directly into the holds with rotary buckets into the holds is still dusty. On the opposite bank, where the wind rose is directed from the direction of Daltransugol, in Menshikov's beloved bay, the entire coast is black with dust. We are worried about the plans of the authorities to further increase the transshipment of coal on the coast of the Tatar Strait. "

And plans are multiplying and concretizing - one of the results of Marat Khusnullin's visit was the announcement of the appearance of a second railway bridge near Komsomolsk-on-Amur. “We made a decision on the bridge yesterday during a detour, there was an option to build a bridge with a combined road and rail or just a railroad. Yesterday we made a decision that we will design a railway bridge, ”Khusnullin said.

How much the entire BAM-2 project will cost the country, the Deputy Prime Minister found it difficult to say so far.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin has set the task to expand the throughput capacity of the Vostochny landfill as soon as possible. We will carry out this task in two stages. On the first one, we will make more crossings, path inserts. On the second, we will build a full-fledged second path. This event is very expensive. It is too early to talk about exact amounts, but we will talk about hundreds of billions of rubles, ”he said.

It remains only to "persuade Rockefeller" - to find where to get these "hundreds of billions".

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