3 Mar 2023 19:13

Creation of cross-border rail corridor to Urumqi in China discussed in Siberia - authorities

KEMEROVO/KRASNOYARSK. March 3 (Interfax) - The creation of a cross-border railway corridor through Tashtagol, Kemerovo Region to Urumqi, China was discussed at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum (KEF), the Russian region's government said.

"All regions [in Siberia] point to the need to strengthen international ties with Asian countries, foremost China. [Kemerovo Region] has a developed transport connection to the Trans-Siberian Railway and is in close proximity to China. Therefore, for the accelerated economic development of Siberia it is most promising to create a cross-border railway corridor through Tashtagol to the city of Urumqi in China," the regional government's press service said.

"This will be one of the largest international infrastructure projects of our time, providing an opportunity to directly develop Siberia's international cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as attract investment in major infrastructure and commercial projects," the press service said. It did not provide information about the timeframe for construction, the cost or extent of the cross-border corridor.

Tashtagol is the southernmost station of the West Siberian Railway in Kemerovo Region. Railway services from Urumqi westward are currently provided through Kazakhstan. The direct distance between Tashtagol and Urumqi is 997 km, while the driving distance is more than 2,000 km, according to public sources.

However, this is not the only railway corridor project discussed at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum. Tyva, together with Khakassia and Krasnoyarsk Territory, is currently working on a prospective cross-border route to Urumqi from the southern route of the Trans-Siberian Railway through Kyzyl, head of Tyva Vladislav Khovalyg told Interfax.

"Previously, a project of a branch line connecting Kyzyl and Kuragino was developed, but now we see the continuation of this line as a transit line, through Kyzyl and Khandagaiti to Western Mongolia and further to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region," Khovalyg said.

He noted that compared to other Chinese provinces this region is less developed, but more than 20 million people live here and the gross regional product (GRP) of the district exceeds 1.7 trillion yuan (more than 17 trillion rubles).

"The design specifications for the feasibility study for the rail corridor are ready, and now we are compiling a pool of interested investors who are ready to finance the development of the feasibility study. But even now we understand that our route will make it possible not only to unload the Trans-Siberian Railroad, but also to set up completely new directions of freight flows, for example, through the port of Lesosibirsk and further to the Northern Sea Route," the head of Tyva emphasized.

Khovalyg added that the creation of the new transport corridor will increase the demand for Tyva's potential and open up prospects for the development of the mineral and raw material base.