23 Dec 2019 18:32

Freight train service across Crimean Bridge to begin on July 1, 2020 - Transport Ministry

CRIMEAN BRIDGE/TAMAN STATION. Dec 23 (Interfax) - Freight train service to Crimea is due to launch on July 1, Russian Transport Minister Yevgeny Ditrikh told President Vladimir Putin on Monday during a train ride across the bridge over Kerch Strait, across which passenger service has been launched.

"One route is now fully ready for cargo transportation. We have yet to complete the second route. With regard to the bridge, everything is ready; with regard to the tunnel [near the Crimean station of Bagerovo], everything is ready; the track between them has yet to be ballasted," Ditrikh said.

"We have assembled all automation, the centralization and blocking system is fully operational, we are riding as per signals. The automation on that side of approach [from the Taman peninsula] has yet to be completed. It has been assembled and needs to be test-run. So we still have some work to complete, probably by late February or early March," he said.

A final decision is yet to be made on "several issues related to transport security, inspecting Taman-bound freight trains from the side of Russian railroads. This is why we have asked your permission to move the deadline to July 1, by which time everything should be completed," Ditrikh said.

During the trip, Putin was also told that the bridge will withstand freight trains running at up to 80 kilometers per hour. During the launch ceremony at the Taman passenger station, the president said that next year's cargo throughput was expected to be 13 million tonnes.