Plowing Through the Permafrost: Old Project to Connect Frozen Republic to Moscow by Rail Restarted

Large-scale 20th-century construction has been resumed in Yakutia on the permafrost. A new railway will connect the republic with the rest of the country's railway network. As of now, only some sections of the railway are operational. The new line, with a connection to Moscow, should start serving passengers by next summer.

Dmitry Makarov reports on this.

The noise of construction equipment hasn't been heard at the Nizhny Bestyakh station in over six years. Now, the work has been resumed and is going on 24/7. First, the most important piece — a warehouse for receiving container cargo. Dmitry Makarov, reporter:

An insulated terminal for cargo processing will be built on top of these piles; containers will be unloaded in a covered room, while it freezes at 50 below outside. Several other teams are in charge of completing long-term construction elements, such as a locomotive depot and a Holiday House for the replacement staff. The main railway station also needs repair.

Vasily Shimokhin, Yakutian Railway CEO: "The plan is to launch rail services at Nizhny Bestyakh station on December 28th of this year. That is, the station will be completed".

According to the original plan, the Amur–Yakutsk Mainline was to be completed by 1991. However, financial funding was halted 20 times. Six years ago a 273 mile-long railroad was laid from Tommot to Nizhny Bestyakh. Although it had some imperfections, it was opened for temporary operation by freight trains. The volume of service has been growing yearly. Although the mainline is unfinished, the railwaymen of Yakutia are the leaders of the region's economy. It employs about a thousand people. Railroad engineer Ruslan Chernykh is one of them. He came to Yakutia from Krasnoyarsk. The company provided the young family with an apartment in a new building.

Ruslan Chernykh, locomotive driver: "There's a labor union, there are gyms — we are all engaged; there are trips to Crimea and Sochi".

However, in order to entirely complete the project, another obstacle is to be tackled — the Lena River. Aysen Nikolayev, the head of the Yakutia Republic, considers the bridge a strategically important task.

Aysen Nikolayev, head of the Yakutia Republic: "We must build an automobile bridge considering that once the country has more opportunities, we will transform it into a railway bridge".

The time of departure of the first train to Moscow has already been determined — the summer of 2019.

Dmitry Makarov, Vladimir Yermakov from Yakutia