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Transsib: through space and time
The Trans-Siberian Railway marked 120 years from the beginning of construction
Road of the king's blood
In the 1891 year, returning from Japan to St. Petersburg, Tsarevich Nikolai Alexandrovich Romanov (future autocrat of Russia Nikolai II) 19 (31) in May personally laid the foundation stone of the Vladivostok railway station. From this section - the Ussuriisk railway (name taken from the Ussuri River) - in the Far East, construction began on the eastern part of the Trans-Siberian Railway - the Great Siberian Route.
According to historical data, back in 1875, a proposal from the local administration to build a railway from Vladivostok to Lake Khanka was made public. In 1886, the Governor-Generals of the Amur Region and Eastern Siberia proposed to build sections of the Siberian road from Tomsk to Sretensk and from Vladivostok to the Busse post (Bussovka village). 6 June 1887, a government decision was made to construct the Trans-Siberian Railway. In order to avoid gaining foreign influence, it was decided to build a road with funds from the treasury, without attracting foreign capital. In 1887, the expedition of engineers OP. Vyazemsky, N.N. Mezheninov and A.I. Ursati began surveying the route of the Central Siberian, Trans-Baikal and South Ussuriysk railways. In 1890, Amur Governor-General A.N. Korf sent to St. Petersburg a petition for the earliest possible construction of a rail track from Vladivostok to Amur. In February 1891 of the year, Alexander III issued a decree on the construction of a “continuous railway across Siberia”. The route was divided into 7 roads: West-Siberian, Middle-Siberian, Circum-Baikal, Trans-Baikal, Amur, North-Ussuri, South-Ussuri.
Since 1892, survey and construction work has been launched on all roads except Amur. Construction proceeded at a fast pace. November 1 1897, the first in the Far East, the Ussuriysk railway from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk with a total length of 769 km was put into permanent operation. In the summer of 1898, the first train arrived in Irkutsk, and in 1900, the line from Irkutsk to Baikal officially entered service. 14 July 1903 was the year when the Great Siberian Route was commissioned, although it was necessary to ship trains via Baikal on a special ferry.
Historically, only the eastern part of the trunk line from Chelyabinsk to Vladivostok with a length of about 7 thousand km is considered to be the Trans-Siberian Railway. It was this site that was built from 1891 to 1916 year. In 1990 – 2000-s, a set of measures to modernize the Trans-Siberian Railway was carried out to increase the carrying capacity of the trunk line. In particular, the railway bridge across the Amur at Khabarovsk was reconstructed, as a result of which the last single track section of the Trans-Siberian Railway was liquidated. In 2002, the complete electrification of the trunk was completed.
Currently, Transsib connects the European part, the Urals, Siberia and the Far East of Russia with access to the Russian western, northern and southern ports, as well as, on the one hand, with railway connections to Europe (St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Novorossiysk), and the other has Pacific ports and rail connections to Asia (Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Zabaikalsk).
Transsib for seven days
According to the Strategy for the development of railway transport in Russia before 2030, the Trans-Siberian Railway becomes the key link in the system of Russian railways in ensuring transport links between Europe and Asia. In recent years, the quality of transport services and the degree of safety of the transported goods have been significantly improved on this highway. Simplified procedures for customs clearance of goods, introduced a simplified procedure for declaring transported goods in containers. New information technologies allow complete control over the progress of cars and containers in real time. Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, said the following about the Trans-Siberian Railway: “The Trans-Siberian Railway for us is a key aspect of the modernization and strategic development of rail transport to 2030 of the year.”
The implementation of complex projects of federal importance in the field of transport is carried out within the framework of the Federal Target Program “Development of the Transport System of Russia (2010 – 2015)”. Such projects, in particular, include projects for the development of the Trans-Siberian Railway. According to this Federal Program, the task of improving the competitiveness of international transport corridors includes the integrated development of the infrastructure of the Transsib international transport corridor - the Trans-Siberian container bridge (Europe - Russia - Japan with branches to the Republic of Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and the Korean Peninsula).
Boris Lapidus, Vice President of Russian Railways, spoke about how Japanese businessmen forced Russian Railways to take on “increased obligations” in terms of cargo delivery time. He noted that the initial goals of Russian Railways - the 10-daily train traffic on the Trans-Siberian Railway - are not “breakthrough”. Meetings with Japanese businessmen showed that price competition with sea transport of the railway corridor is impossible. Since there is no price competition, RZD is left with only one argument - quality of delivery, reliability and safety. Therefore, a “breakthrough” can only be considered as moving along a transport corridor within a time period of not more than seven days. Then the price and cost of working capital, which is saved due to acceleration, will be comparable to the difference in tariffs for rail and sea transportation. The task “Transsib for seven days” is planned to be accomplished with RZD’s own means for the 2012 year by consistently increasing the speed of container block trains in order to reach the speed of 1400 km per day, which will ensure the delivery of trains to the western border of Russia, i.e. to butt points with Eastern European states, seven days.
The Russian leadership recognizes the special role of the Trans-Siberian Railway in the country's transport infrastructure. Thus, the Chairman of the Government of Russia, Vladimir Putin, said that the government, together with the business, intends in the coming years to carry out a radical modernization of the railway sector of Russia. “And we will build development plans taking into account the increasing demands of transport consumers,” he said. - We will create groundwork for the growth of the economy. It will be necessary to solve a whole complex of problems. First - it is necessary to seriously upgrade the entire railway network of the country and eliminate the so-called bottlenecks on the key highways of the country. First of all, I mean the eastern directions: these are BAM and Transsib ”.
From BAM to Hokkaido
During the Russian-Japanese summit meeting in 2007, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered Russian President Vladimir Putin an "Initiative to strengthen Japanese-Russian cooperation in the regions of the Far East and Eastern Siberia." In this document in the section "Transport" it is said that it is necessary to stimulate economic and humanitarian exchange through the development of transport and logistics networks. In particular, the provision of a logistics route for the APR countries to Russia and Europe using the Transsib is strategically beneficial both for Russia and for all countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Proceeding from this understanding, the Japanese side suggests that Russia consider a model of cooperation in this area.
In March, 2008, the decisions of relevant ministers of Russia and Japan created an Inter-Agency Working Group on Russian-Japanese cooperation in the field of transport. According to the Russian side, an increase in the throughput capacity of Transsib to 450 thousand tons is “too modest and insufficiently ambitious task for us”.
In the context of Russian-Japanese relations, it is impossible not to mention the project for the construction of the Sakhalin tunnel (bridge). This long-discussed project envisages the laying of rails from the Selikhin railway station at BAM (near Komsomolsk-on-Amur) to Nysh station on Sakhalin Island. In January, 2009, the Minister of Transport of Russia, Igor Levitin, invited Japanese businessmen to participate in construction. The deadlines for the construction of the tunnel extend over the 2015 year, however, according to the Russian side, they can be reduced if Japanese businessmen are interested in building. The development of this project could be the subsequent connection of Sakhalin and Hokkaido. But for now, however, the railway artery, which will connect Japan to the mainland of Russia through Sakhalin, remains only an ambitious idea that excites the imagination.
The question squarely
At present, Russia is facing serious challenges, caused, on the one hand, by a number of unresolved internal problems that hold back the development of the Far East, and on the other, by the economic growth of the neighboring countries of the Asia-Pacific Region. It is known that the peculiarities of the Far East and Transbaikalia are the uneven economic development of the territory and the high differentiation of socio-economic indicators by regional administrative entities. In addition, by population density on 1 square. km The Far East and Transbaikalia are inferior to both other regions of Russia and the countries of the Asia-Pacific Region. In the end, the question is an edge: either Russia will begin to make active and systematic efforts to create a favorable investment climate and develop the infrastructure of the region, or neighboring countries, and above all China, will create competing infrastructure and production in their territories, thereby “dragging” developing business of the Asia-Pacific countries.
Thus, in January 2010, the Ministry of Railway Transport of China supported the idea of building, in conjunction with 17, the neighboring countries of the Pan-Asian High-Speed Rail Line. In March of the same year, the National People’s Representatives Meeting heard a report entitled “Directions for the Development of Chinese High-Speed Railways”, in which it was noted that the total length of high-speed railways in China should exceed 2012 thousand by the year 13. According to the plans for the 2025 year, it is planned to begin construction in three areas that are strategic for China:
1) Central Asian direction: the branch will start from Urumqi, will pass through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey and other countries, as a result there will be an exit from the territory of mainland China to Germany;
2) East Asian direction: the branch will start in Kunming, then it will go through Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand (or through Myanmar), through Malaysia to Singapore);
3) Russian direction: from Heilongjiang (the beginning of the branch already exists) through the territory of Siberia to the states of Eastern Europe.
But also from the European Union, we are witnessing efforts to revive the route from China to Europe through Central, Middle and Small Asia - the medieval realities of the Great Silk Road. In May, the 1993 of the year launched the TRACECA program (TRACECA, Transport Corridor Europe and Europe Asia) at a conference in Brussels. The conference was attended by trade and transport ministers from five countries of Central Asia and three Caucasian states. An agreement was adopted on the Technical Assistance Program, which is funded by the EU, for the development of a transport corridor in the direction of West - East from Europe, with the crossing of the Black Sea, through the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea with access to Central Asia. This project was also supported by the USA. Supporters of the TRACECA corridor are China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and other countries. It seems that this is one of those projects that sets as its political task the exclusion of Russia from the international transit process.
From potential to implementation
The high potential of the Far East is obvious. This territory occupies a favorable economic and geographical position in Russia and the Asia-Pacific region, adjacent to such economic giants as the USA, China and Japan. The ports of the Far East have access to the latitudinal transport systems of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur main railways crossing Eurasia. The Northern Sea Route passes along the Far Eastern shores, and if we are to believe the forecasts of global warming on the planet, this transport artery is becoming more and more attractive. It is believed that with the increasing role of the APR in the world economy, the importance of the Far East and Transbaikalia as a contact zone, providing foreign economic, cultural and other types of intergovernmental cooperation, also increases.
However, it is not enough to talk about the unique geographical location, a powerful raw material base, scientific, technical and military potential of the Far East, which can contribute to attracting capital and the largest commodity flows. By itself, the potential is only of theoretical interest. It is necessary to make vigorous efforts to realize the opportunities and advantages that Russia possesses. The Trans-Siberian Railway - “the main latitudinal artery of the country” - must be considered as the most important domestic development object, whose transit and system-forming potential is far from being fully utilized today. Moreover, the highway should provide both competitive freight transportation and perform a social function, giving citizens of the country the opportunity to exercise their right to freedom of movement in an affordable and high-quality way.