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Russian rail bridge to Sakhalin?

VLADIVOSTOK: Russian Railways (RZD) and the China Yingkou Port Group have signed an MoU to construct a new logistics complex in the Moscow region and establish a similar facility at the port of Yingkou (right) – which is part owned by the Alibaba Group.

Oleg Belozerov, president of RZD, made the announcement at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok earlier this month saying his company intends to "become the locomotive driving the economy in the Far East". He added that Russia "needs to look more closely at [building] a bridge to Sakhalin. This is, in my view, a real project for the near future".

Chinas Yingkou portRZD currently is modernizing and upgrading the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railway infrastructure. "We plan to complete the projects on time and by 2018 finish the reconstruction of the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur mainlines," he said. "We also have major plans for the development of the transport corridors Primorye-1 and Primorye-2," he added. The two routes will link China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces to the Russian ports of Vladivostok and Nakhodka.

According to Alexander Galushka, head of the Ministry for Development of Russian Far East, the new rail links are a first step in the creation of quality infrastructure in the Asian-Pacific region. "Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 projects represent a practical coupling of the Silk Road and the Eurasian Economic Union. This is of benefit to both the north-eastern provinces of China and the whole of Russia, including East Russia and the Primorsky Krai," he explained.

Belozerov noted that foreign trade flows through Russia's Far Eastern region ports last year increased 12 percent over 2013 to 82.4 million tons, and by close to 2.0 percent in the first seven months of 2015.

"We have set ourselves priorities. Above all, we intend to clarify our rates. At the moment they are somewhat outdated and in need of modernization," he said, adding a new tariff would be in place over the next 18 months.

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