4 Jun 2019 13:24

RZD doesn't see risk of under-utilization of BAM after 2nd stage of development - head

MOSCOW. June 4 (Interfax) - OJSC Russian Railways (RZD) head Oleg Belozerov says he does not see a risk that the Baikal-Amur Mainline will be under-utilized after the implementation of the second stage of the project to develop the "Eastern Polygon" and says that the directions of cargo flows are changing.

"BAM-II doesn't have any such risk. What's more, we need to be building very actively in the 'Eastern Polygon.' The thing is that life won't end in 2025, the way our long-term development program will. The country will be developing. There should be growth in gross profit in 2026, 2027, and 2028," Belozerov told Interfax in an interview.

"How can we go through the Far East, to the ports? Above all, along the main route of the Baikal-Amur Mainline - the Vanino-Sovgavansky region. The next outlet - down the map - is Vladivostok, Nakhodka, Posyet. That's it; we don't have any more outlets to the sea in this area. But the cargo flows that are on the horizon are much bigger," he said.

"This is precisely why we're talking about building a bridge to Sakhalin. We see that this area is convenient, this is one more outlet to harbors where additional shipping can be arranged. To that end, we're also working on respiking lines on Sakhalin, which we'll just about finish this summer," Belozerov said.

The double-track, electrified BAM will be an infrastructural solution, he said, adding, "Yes, electrification is beneficial only after a certain volume of traffic, but we've already exceeded it."

Container shipping is also increasing, he said. "They all used to go from Asia to Europe. Now they've started moving in the opposite direction. We see, as exemplified by United Transport and Logistics Company [an RZD subsidiary], that reverse utilization out of the EU is over 80%. In order to implement an effective and attractive service in the container segment without making life harder for those same coal companies, we need to remove infrastructural barriers and diversify flows," Belozerov said.

The company sees BAM as an artery for large shipments and the Trans-Siberian Railway as one whose advantage is speed, he said. "But the transition to that model will happen gradually," Belozerov said.