RUSSIA’s Far Eastern Railway has approved a 15bn rouble programme to improve capacity on the line from Komsomolsk-na-Amur to the Pacific ports of Vanino and Sovetskaya Gavan.

To be completed over the next six years, the work will include construction of a 20 km deviation to reduce the ruling gradient and permit the operation of longer and heavier trains. The deviation will require a 3890m tunnel through the Sikhote-Alinsky mountain range. Design work for the Kuznetsovsky tunnel has been undertaken by Bamtonnelproject of Novosibirsk and Dalgiprotrans of Khabarovsk.

Development of oil, coal, timber and mineral resources along the Baikal-Amur corridor is expected to generate a substantial increase in rail freight arriving in Komsomolsk for export through Russia’s Pacific ports. Much of the growth will be handled at Vanino on the Gulf of Tatary, where a new deep-water port able to handle 12 million tonnes of coal per year is to be completed by 2008. This will be served by a connecting branch from the existing railway, requiring the construction of a major bridge over the Muchka River. n