RUSSIA: The first 1 520 mm gauge long-distance overnight passenger services on the island of Sakhalin began running on July 18, following conversion of the 500 km Vzmorye – Nogliki route from 1 067 mm to broad gauge.
This marks the latest stage in a programme launched in 2003 to regauge the island’s network to Russia’s broad gauge from the 1 067 mm gauge which was a legacy of Japanese rule before World War II. Completion is envisaged for next year.
The work is being undertaken Russian Railways and contractor SK Most.
Regauging of the 161 km from Kholmsk on the west coast north to Arsentevka and then Vzmorye on the east side of the island was completed on June 15, with stopping passenger services reintroduced on the 70 km along the west coast as far north as Tomari on the same date. Work is currently underway on the 108 km section running south from Vzmorye to Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, with completion expected at the end of August.
The 23 km branch line to Bykov was closed at the end of May, as it carried fewer than 100 passengers per day. This was not considered enough to justify the cost of regauging.