23 Mar 2023 20:08

Railroad part of Crimean Bridge expected to reopen to traffic by summer - Russian deputy PM

KRASNODAR. March 23 (Interfax) - Traffic along the railroad section of the Crimean Bridge is expected to resume in early summer 2023, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told the Rossiya 24 (VGTRK) television channel.

"As regards the Crimean Bridge, we reopened both parts of the automobile section within an unprecedentedly short period of time, using unique construction technologies. [...] Now we are working on the railroad section, some of its spans have already been lifted. The president has given us until July 1 to finish the work at the railroad section. I think that we will reopen it to traffic by early summer, if this work is not hindered by the weather, if no changes occur," Khusnullin said.

As reported, the possibility of reopening the bridge's automobile section to small trucks is also being considered.

"Since two automobile lanes are functioning in full already, in order to increase throughput capacity, we are considering the possibility of allowing small vehicles - GAZelle vans, light trucks - and empty trucks on their way back to use the bridge again," Khusnullin told reporters on Thursday after the presentation of the government's report in the State Duma.

The possibility of reopening the bridge to large trucks carrying heavy cargo is not under consideration for now due to risks, including those related to the ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, he said.

Trucks are not currently being allowed to use the Crimean Bridge. They are using the Kerch ferry line or the overland corridor through Russia's new regions.

On the morning of October 8, 2022, a truck exploded on the roadway section of the Crimean Bridge, setting fire to fuel tanker cars of a nearby freight train and causing two spans of the two-lane Krasnodar - Kerch roadway to tumble down. Several people died in the accident. A criminal case on terrorism charges was opened.

The Kerch - Taman roadway section of the bridge remained intact, and car traffic via this section, as well as train traffic, was resumed the same day.

Khusnullin said on March 9 that the assembly of the first new span of the Crimean Bridge's railroad section to replace a damaged one had been completed. The second damaged span is expected to be replaced in early April, and the repairs are expected to be completed in the summer of 2023.

Khusnullin said later that the repairs of this part of the bridge were going faster than initially planned and could be completed earlier than the July 1 deadline.