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00:33 | Jan 17 | 2013

Republic’s Arteries

How all kinds of the Republic’s transport are developing and what the future holds in store for them.

On the prospects of the transport infrastructure of Yakutia reports Semyon Vinokourov, Minister of Transport and Roads of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia).

Roads hold special attention
- Semyon Viktorovich, could you please tell us about the major transport infrastructure projects of the Republic.

- In 2002, the Government of Sakha Republic (Yakutia) adopted the Transport Strategy of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia), in which priority areas were identified. The main objective of the strategy is the creation of a year-round main base transport network of our Republic optimally combined with the development of aviation and river transport.
Our main transport construction – the building of the railway Berkakit – Tommot – Yakutsk – is being concluded. By the end of next year freight trains will be operating on the line Tommot – Nizhny Bestyakh.
At the same time the basic road network is being formed. Such highways as “Lena”, “Kolyma” and “Vilyui” which are included in the federal target program for the development of transport system of Russia are being reconstructed and constructed. Over the past three years budgetary funding for the construction, repair and maintenance of federal roads has tripled; this year 12 billion rubles are allocated for these purposes. A large-scale reconstruction aimed at the widening and asphalt paving was carried out on the highway “Lena”.
As for the federal highway “Kolyma”, we know that it is operated from the time of Stalin's camps and was constructed through mountainous areas. “Kolyma” has very complex and difficult crossings and tough bridges – all this aggravates motor transport traffic. With the completion of difficult sections of the road “Zheltiy” (Yellow), “Cherniy” (Black) and “Swallow's Nest” by 2014 safe passage of motor vehicles on “Kolyma” will be ensured.
In 2007, the “Vilyui” highway, which mission is to provide a continuous road link to the city of Mirny, was transferred to the federal ownership. The road to the destination point has a total of 8 major bridges. Today, five of them are under major construction.
- What can be said about regional roads?
- Special attention will be paid to the construction of the “Amga” road. Now most of the work is concentrated on the elimination of the ground break-off at the site Amga – Ust-Maya. Next we consider a promising possibility of exit of the road to the Okhotsk Sea port Ayan. Also “Aldan” and “Umnas” highways construction is a priority.
Meanwhile, we also focus on rural roads. Since this year substantial funding for the maintenance, repair and construction of local roads are being allocated from the Road fund of the Republic. Moreover, it is planned that the total amount of funds provided for regional and local roads from the Road Fond of the Republic is to increase every year. This suggests that the situation in the industry will gradually improve. In addition, under the decree of the President of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) “On Integrated Measures for Rural Development in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia)” a lot of work on the development of rural roads will be conducted next year. First, we'll start to solve the problem of intra-settlement roads. 600 million rubles will be provided for these purposes cumulatively in the Republic in 2013.

Aviation and shipping are upgrading their fleets
- What problems are solved for the development of air transport?

- Currently, the main challenge for aviation is to update their fleet. Today “Yakutia Airlines” operates 11 Boeings, two aircrafts “Bombardier” and “Superjet” are coming soon. Serious attention is paid to small aircraft. As part of the fleet renewal program aircraft “AN-3” and “AN-140” were also procured.
Positive changes in the development of the airport network can be observed. This line has long remained unprofitable. However, uniting the airports into a single company FKP “Aeroporty Severa” (Airports of the North) has allowed to overcome the situation. Today about 1 billion rubles is allocated from the federal budget to subsidize their operations.
As part of the above-mentioned Decree of the President of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) on the provision of transportation availability for aviation additional funds to subsidize intra-ulus and inter-ulus aviation operations will be provided – funding has increased from 146 to 176 million rubles. Tariff formation to these destinations will be based on the following calculation: 30% of the economically justified tariff will be paid by people, while 70% will be charged to the budget. To make flights available the funding of inter-ulus transportation from the Arctic regions to the city of Yakutsk at discounted price will be increased. Citizens younger than 23 and older than 55 will benefit from this. Furthermore, the period of subsidized flights is extended. Funding for this purpose will increase from 23 to 73 million at large.
- How is water transportation developed?
- Due to state support the procedure of financial recovery of “Lena United River Shipping Company” is completed. The today’s challenge is fleet renewal. We plan to complete this process by 2015 so that the refitted fleet fully meets the technical regulations and safety requirements.
Modernization is also expected in regard to passenger transport. The implementation of the program of the gas-fired bus fleet renewal involving participation of the federal budget begins this year. The next active step is to purchase off-road vehicles for the passenger and cargo transportation to towns with not easily accessible infrastructure.

The Bridge was chosen
- Not so long ago, an ambitious goal was declared: to turn Yakutsk into the largest infrastructure hub in the northeastern Eurasia due to which there would appear the shortest way between Southeast Asia and the ports of northern Europe. Were any policy documents on this project adopted, and, if yes, what is the current status of work?

- Back in 2006, by the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences of the Russian Federation and the Euro-Asian Transport Innovation Centre a possibility of a meridional transport corridor “China – Russia (Blagoveshchensk – Skovorodino –Yakutsk – Tiksi – the Northern Sea Route) – Western Europe” was developed and offered based on the proposals of businesses of Russia and China.
Today construction of a railway segment Berkakit – Tommot – Yakutsk is being completed; in 2013 the launch complex Tommot – Nizhny Bestyakh is planned to be put into operation. Provided the construction of the second launch complex between Pravaya Lena and the Yakutsk River Port and the construction of a bridge over the Lena River is complete, the latitude lines (the Trans-Siberian and the Baikal-Amur lines on the one side, and the Northern Sea Route on the other side) will become connected. A transport corridor will be set up, which in case of the expected construction of a bridge across the Amur River between the village of Dzhalinda (Russia) and the village of Mohe (China) would acquire international status (Asia Pacific Region – Europe).
This variant is included in the Strategy of the Socio-Economic Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region till 2025 and forms the following route: a village of Mohe – Dzhalinda – Skovorodino – Tynda – Neryungri – Yakutsk – the Lena River – the Northern Sea Route – ports of the Russian North and Western Europe. This will radically change the logistical scheme of product distribution and cargo flow allocation.
- This project will be implemented only if the construction of the bridge over the Lena River is completed. How is this issue solved?
- The discussion over the issue on the choice of a means of crossing took very long. An expert committee, which included leading Russian specialists, was created by the Government of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) to choose the best option. Scientists, engineers, designers and builders studied the global experience in the construction of tunnel junctions. As a result of all the work a bridge was decided to be the most viable option. Moreover, the Russian experts already have experience of building bridges in difficult climatic conditions, i.e. crossings over the major Siberian rivers Ob and Irtysh. RAS President Yuri Osipov agreed with the expert opinion. The records were reviewed in the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation. Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Arkady Dvorkovich entrusted to prepare a project for the construction of the bridge.
The first stage includes construction of a motor transport bridge with an extension for a railway line during the second stage. In the future, based on the developed technical solutions the railway will be tracked to the left bank of the Lena River. Today the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation is considering various options for the bridge, a creative competition will be held after which design works will begin; the budget provided for this purpose is estimated at 36 billion rubles.

In search of new solutions
- In the last decade alternative forms of transport such as airships are much discussed. Enthusiasts believe that these vessels can be very useful in our conditions due to their cost-effectiveness, safety and high-capacity. What is your opinion? Is it a utopia or is this mode of transport in fact possible to use in Yakutia?

- This issue was addressed during the I Congress of Engineers of Yakutia, which was held in Yakutsk in March 2012. At that time the SPA “Avgur-RosAeroSystems” presented a project on 2 to 60 tons capacity airships. The project appeared to be very interesting from the point of view of our distances and taking into account that it is a more economical and environmentally friendly kind of transport. No positive decision is yet made with regard to this matter, it is still being analyzed.
Meanwhile, amphibious production was demonstrated at the same conference, namely a ground effect craft “Burevestnik 24” produced by a design office “Nebo plus More” (Sky Plus Sea). The ground effect vehicles are excellent vehicles for our conditions thanks to air-cushion. Next year, we plan to test the GEVs in the Republic, and based on the results will build up further operational organization of this kind of transport in Yakutia.

Today construction of a railway segment Berkakit – Tommot – Yakutsk is being completed; in 2013 the launch complex Tommot – Nizhny Bestyakh is planned to be put into operation.