NORTH KOREA: A ceremony was held on September 22 to mark the completion of work to reinstate the railway from Rajin in the Rason Special Economic Zone to the border at Tumangang and Khasan in Russia.
More than 5·5bn roubles has been spent rehabilitating the 54 km line for 1 520 and 1 435 mm gauge trains, and a further 3·5bn roubles on developing the port terminal to handle 4 million tonnes of cargo per year.
The revived line 'will become a transport route of friendship, promoting joint economic and transportation development for our countries and the well-being of our people', said Minister of Railways Jon Kil Su. 'It will be a reliable international transport hub, connecting Asia and Europe.'
The project was agreed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il and Russian President Vladimir Putin in August 2001, as part of the hoped-for reconstruction of the Trans-Korean Railway.
The Ministry of Railways and Russian Railways signed a co-operation agreement in 2008, with work beginning at Tumangang in October 2008, 'thanks to the unshakable will of the two countries and the active co-operation of their railway workers', according to the official Korean Central News Agency.
In August 2009 the RasonKonTrans joint venture of RZD subsidiary Russian Railways Trading Company (70%) and the Port of Rason (30%) leased the Tumangang - Rajin line from the Ministry of Railways for 49 years. Funding for the rehabilitation was provided from the share capital of RasonKonTrans and loans attracted based on the business plan of the project.
The project included restoring 18 bridges, 12 culverts and three tunnels with a combined length of more than 4·5 km, as well as laying four-rail dual gauge track. A transfer terminal at the port is nearing completion, along with dredging and construction of a quay, storage areas, industrial and office buildings. A single control centre will manage future operations on the line.
Joined at the opening ceremony by RZD President Vladimir Yakunin and Russia's Deputy Minister of Transport Alexi Tsydenov, Jon said the link would be successful 'as it was made on the principle of mutual respect and co-operation between the railway transportation fields of the two countries.'