Russian Railways (RZD) offered a preliminary blueprint for the third stage of the Baikal-Amur Mainline (BAM) expansion, including three options, which are being considered by the national railway operator.
The first option, worth 333 billion RUR (4.6 billion USD), assumes additional volumes of coal exports from Elga deposit in the amount of 16.6 mio t. Construction works are planned only on the BAM, with a focus on the Ulak-Komsomolsk section (in Ulak, the railway line from Elga joins the BAM). At the same time, the railway access to the ports of the Vanino-Sovgavan cluster, as well as to the sections west of Ulak, are not considered in this variant.
The second option is aimed at achieving a railway throughput of 210 mio t by 2030 and includes both coal exports from Elga (16.6 mio t) to the terminals of Vanino and the transportation of additional 13.4 mio t to the ports of the Primorsky region. To implement this option, RZD has to construct another 1.1 thousand km of the second main routes on the BAM, in addition to 553 km, which are necessary to ensure coal supplies from Elga. The project also provides for the expansion of construction works on the Ulak-Komsomolsk section, the modernization of the Tynda-Ulak section (in Tynda, the railway line from Yakutia joins the BAM). Under RZD assessment, the cost of the second option amounts to 1.22 trillion RUR (16.8 billion USD).
The third option is designed to increase railway freight traffic up to 240 mio t. Within this variant large-scale works are envisaged both on the BAM and on the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR), including the construction of a railway route bypassing Khabarovsk, a bridge over the Amur River as well as the second Kuznetsovsky tunnel. This requires the construction of additional 1.45 thousand km of the second main railway tracks and over 800 km of the third tracks. This option is estimated at 2.89 trillion rubles (39.5 billion USD). None of the above scenarios assumes the construction of the second Severomuisky tunnel, worth 200 billion RUR (2.7 billion USD).
According to experts, the investments in the amount of 1.67 trillion RUR (22.9 billion USD) for an increase in throughput from 210 to 240 mio t is an unreasonably expensive project, which requires an alternative solution to enhance cargo transportation for extra 30 mio t on the Eastern range.
For reference: the second stage of the BAM development envisages an increase in railway throughput capacity up to about 180 mio t by 2025.
Source: CAA Analytics