RUSSIA: Russian Railways has completed the 25 kV 50 Hz electrification of its 365 km line from a junction with the Trans-Siberian Railway at Karymskaya to Zabaikalsk on the Chinese border.

The start of electric train operation on the final 117 km from Borzya to the break-of-gauge terminal at the border was marked by a virtual ceremony on March 22, addressed by Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev, RZD Director General Oleg Belozerov and the Governor of Zabaykalsky Krai Alexander Osipov. Noting that Zabaikalsk was ‘the largest railway checkpoint on the Russian-Chinese border’, Savelyev stressed that development in the east of the country was one of the government’s infrastructure priorities.

RZD said it had invested more than 9·3bn roubles in electrification of the final section of the route, which has been extensively rebuilt with a new double-track alignment able to accommodate 110 trains each way per day. The work included more than 340 track-km of overhead wiring, two new traction substations and four autotransformer stations, as well as renewal of the telecommunications network and the installation of new signalling and traffic management systems.

Belozerov explained that electrification of the line would increase its throughput to accommodate growing volumes of traffic between the two countries using the route through Manchuria. He anticipated that ‘the transition to electric traction will not only reduce operating costs significantly, but also the impact of rail transport on the environment’.

Noting that the expansion in capacity would also allow for increased freight traffic to and from Zabaykalsky Krai, Osipov said he hoped that this would ‘significantly stimulate the growth of the local economy’.