27 Nov 2017 13:23

Crimea hopes to build Feodosia-Simferopol railway - paper

MOSCOW. Nov 27 (Interfax) - The Crimean authorities hope to build a new railway connecting Feodosia and Simferopol, which would reduce train travelling times to the regional center from the new bridge across Kerch Strait from the Russian mainland.

A railway costing at least 35 billion rubles could be built in the corridor of the Tavrida highway, construction of which is underway, business daily Vedomosti reported on Monday. This is part of a proposal for the comprehensive development of railways in Crimea approved by an interdepartmental working group of the Council of Ministers, a representative of the local Economic Development Ministry said.

The Kerch Bridge proposal does not end with the bridge, a representative of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak, who is overseeing the development of the Black Sea peninsula, said. The Tavrida highway is being built according to the same logic, he said.

The railway is needed and the project is being supported, the paper reported Crimean leader Sergei Aksyonov as saying. Previously, traffic came from Ukraine and the Dzhankoi-Simferopol route was the main one, but now it will be Kerch-Simferopol, he said. "The project is being developed jointly with our colleagues from the Free Economic Society (VEO). I hope that together we'll manage," he said.

The cost of developing Crimea's railway network is estimated at 100 billion rubles, a Vedomosti source familiar with the concept approved by the Council of Ministers said.

"This is a broad estimate, before evaluation, an opinion that could change either up or down," the paper quoted Aksyonov as saying. The details of the concept for railway construction are now being discussed and a final decision has not been made, Kozak's spokesman said.

The project would be financed with extra-budgetary sources, through a concession or an issue of project bonds, a spokesman for the Crimean Economic Development Ministry said. Officially, investors have not yet come forward with a private initiative, but a consortium of designers has been formed. It includes MSU Mayak, Inzhproyektizyskaniya, Giprogor, Railway Construction Company, the Crimean regional division of VEO and others.

The head of the consortium, Vladimir Gelaiko said that technical specifications have been drafted on instructions of the Council of Ministers working group. It has two scenarios: the first calls for building a 215 km railway network and the second for building a 302 km network, with reconstruction in the northern part of Crimea and running almost throughout the peninsula. But the second scenario is no longer being considered.

Reconstruction and electrification of rail lines will be required on the Kerch-Feodosia route, which is comparable to the cost of new construction, and a new 121 km electrified single track railway would be built from Feodosia to Simferopol, Gelaiko said. The consortium estimates the cost of this section at about 20 billion rubles, the paper said. The project also includes current repairs on the two existing Feodosia-Dzhankoi and Dzhankoi-Simferopol rail lines, Gelaiko said.

The program also includes a second phase of construction and reconstruction, he said. It includes 132 km of railway on the Simferopol-Bakhchisarai-Sevastopol route, costing an estimated 11.7 billion rubles (the length is due to passage through mountains), and 62.2 km on the route Simferopol-Saki-Yevpatoria, at a cost of 7.82 billion rubles.

There are several ways to carry out these plans, a source involved in discussions of the project said, the paper reported. All expenditures on the railway could be included in the federal program for the social and economic development of Crimea or investors could be brought in. Negotiations on participation in the project are being held with Chinese investors, the source said.

The Crimean Economic Development Ministry spokesman refrained from commenting on this information officially, but said it would make sense to attract investors once the project is approved.

The Kerch Bridge, which will carry freight and passengers to the line, is being built by Arkady Rotenberg's Stroygazmontazh (SGM). A spokesman for Rotenberg said he does not have information about participation in this project, the paper reported. "At present, we're focused on fulfilling current contracts," he said.

Even if the builders of Kerch Bridge are interested in the new project, they will not participate in it officially, as the United States is expected to impose new personal sanctions in February that will also affect contractors, a federal official said.