https://safirsoft.com The Trans-Siberian Slow Train gives an overview of the ambitions of Russian Railways

The redevelopment of the 4,300 km line from the Soviet era is aimed at strengthening the network in this century.

On the shores of Lake Baikal, in the heart of Eastern Siberia, one of Russia's most ambitious modern railway engineers ended up.

The Baikalsky Tunnel, dug across 7 kilometers of cliffs, took 7 years for construction crews to work at minus 60 degrees Celsius. Designed to withstand the weekly earthquakes under control in this corner of Russia, this outstanding project is a redevelopment of one of the country's most important railways, which aims to develop the turnover of the Soviet Union in the twenty-first century.

The main line of the Baikal Amur, a cousin of the Trans-Siberian Railway, stretches for up to 4,300 kilometers through the harshest lands in the world to the Pacific Ocean. State-owned Russian Railways (RZD) has been investing $17 billion for more than a decade as part of an ambitious plan to transport not only passengers but also larger pieces of goods and raw materials that move billions of dollars annually from Asia to Europe. "Russia has made progress," the engineer in charge of the Baikalsky Tunnel by Vladimir Goncharov told the Financial Times of Severobaikalsk, a quiet town at the northern end of Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake.

"When I started building the tunnel in 2007, there were a lot of funding problems. There aren't now. I think that every year the problem of personnel and financial resources is quickly resolved. Russia today has everything we need to build and develop infrastructure for rail.”

His optimism ignores Hercules' mission to modernize Russia's divided rail network—the budget for this massive upgrade has been the subject of national debate for years.

The four-day trip to BAM spans travelers through towering mountains, flowing rivers, dense taiga forests, and a series of railroad towns built for Soviet-era construction workers on time. Severobaikalsk is one of them: the largest city on Lake Baikal, with a population of 23,000, overlooks deep, cold blue waters, which are surrounded by snow-capped peaks even in summer. The city's main attraction is a sail-shaped train station built by workers from Leningrad - now Saint Petersburg - in honor of their city's nautical traditions, said Lyudmila, an assistant at a local grocery store, "Severobaikalsk moved to join relatives working on the railways. " This is a great city. Love it here,” he was eager to talk to a rare visitor. “It's beautiful, clean, safe but expensive. Railroads are the only big employer. Every family has someone who works on the railways.”

h2> 4300 km | The length of the main Baikal Amur line is $ 17 billion Raising the level of investment in Russian railways 43 km Speed ​​on the railway network was unusable in BAM was built in the 1930s as a replacement for the Siberian Trans in the event of conflict with China.But construction was delayed until the 1970s, and while the line opened in 1989, only the last 10 tunnels were completed in 2003.

Victor, 74, remembers his contract as a construction worker in Severobaikalsk from 1977 to 1987 with a deep sense of patriotism.

"The feeling of pride and belonging to the huge construction project was real to all the people who lived along the way." “In the difficult days the country is going through, its people unite and do hard work.” Russia hopes the road will become an Asia-Europe transit corridor, transporting goods to Western markets and shifting demand for mineral resources. Such as coal. As a faster, safer and environmentally friendly transportation option, with the blockade The last of the Suez Canal, the Moscow railways provide reason for controversy.

About 98% of the transport volume between Europe and Asia uses the Suez Canal. It lasts 40-45 days. It's twice as fast with the rail. “Railways are also cheaper than sea cucumbers. The cost of transporting goods from Asia to Europe by train, according to the Eurasian Rail Alliance Index, is half the price,” said Oleg Bluzerov, RZD general manager for FT. It is measured by the Global Container Index. Advertising

However, Russia is struggling to compete with China, which plans to build a new Silk Road infrastructure. Improved transport to Western Europe passes through dozens of countries, as part of its only route plan.

The upgraded Russian railways could handle at least 10 percent of the total, Bloserov said. Containers passing from the country's Far Eastern ports to its western borders, a 10-fold increase.

While the railways in Siberia run at full capacity every year, the past cargo of 144 million tons will rise to 180 million tons by 2025.

The railway project will also help in the redevelopment of rich East Siberia. with natural resources. Belozrov said that "this region" has enormous potential for development and can be considered a locomotive for the development of the national economy. "

About a third of rail transport in Russia goes primarily to China. And despite Beijing's pledge to neutralize by 2060, demand from India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand will continue." However, Mammoth's mission to rehabilitate Russia's crumbling rail infrastructure still requires significant effort, huge investment, and decades to do so.

Finding workers willing to do the work is another matter, with one official even suggesting sending prisoners to complete the work, according to a report from Kommersant, an idea reminiscent of the Soviet system, which also criticized the environmental impact of railway redevelopment on Siberia's delicate ecosystem. For RZD, the average speed on the Russian railway network is only 43 kilometers per hour.< /p>

A few years ago, Elon Musk's Hyperloop was a high-speed magnetic train line between Moscow. He suggested St. Petersburg, but may That's too far for Siberia.

"I doubt magnets could work in our climate. Summer is very short and winter is hard. said engineer Goncharov. "Maybe Ilan didn't test his magnetic mask at minus 50 degrees Celsius."

© 2021 Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved. Do not redistribute, copy or modify in any way.

List of photos by Vladimir Matovsky / TASS / Getty Images

The Trans-Siberian Slow Train gives an overview of the ambitions of Russian Railways
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