Ruslan Baysarov: We’re Building the First Railway in Tyva

Ruslan Baysarov discusses how his Tuva Energy Industrial Corporation and SK Most Group of Companies are working to enhance Russian infrastructure

In early April 2019, JSC TEPK Kyzyl-Kuragino signed a general contract agreement with Russian Railways to design and build the first railroad in the Republic of Tyva—the Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino line. The new 410-km-long railroad will connect this mineral-rich region, first and foremost for the transport of coal, with the federal railway infrastructure. Ruslan Baysarov, the company's general director, shared the story of this project.

There have long been discussions on the need for a railway in Tyva. What is the status of the project today?

Ruslan Baysarov: In May 2018, JSC TEPK Kyzyl-Kuragino and the Federal Agency for Rail Transport, acting on behalf of the Russian Federation, entered into a concession agreement on the design, construction, and operation of the railway. By order of the Government of the Russian Federation, the Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino railroad was then included in the Yenisei Siberia investment project. At the time, the head of the Tyva Republic appointed by the federal government was Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, and one of his key priorities was to begin the construction of the railroad as soon as possible.

In April of this year, JSC TEPK Kyzyl-Kuragino signed an agreement with JSC Russian Railways that Russian Railways would act as a general contractor for the construction of infrastructure for the railroad. A combination of government decisions and the work of the most experienced railroad-construction contractor in the country will help accelerate the project.

What can this line provide for the region?

Ruslan Baysarov: "At the signing ceremony, both Minister Oreshkin and Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich stressed the importance and significance of the project, both for the Tyva Republic and for the entire Russian transport system. Aside from the substantial local, regional, and federal tax revenues that will be generated, the construction of the Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino railroad will create about 5,000 jobs. When the railroad goes into operation and the Elegest coal mine is fully developed, at least 10,000 more people will be employed through related industries as well. At the same time, 120 kilometers of the line will go through Tyva, and the remaining 290 kilometers will go through Krasnoyarsk Krai. The transport network will also strengthen interregional ties beyond these two regions and will provide high-quality Tuvan coal access to the Trans-Siberian Railway. Aldyn-Kys Kongar, the Chairman of the Tyva Republic's Great Khural Committee on Energy, Construction, Transport, and Housing, correctly compared this railroad to the Great Silk Road and believes that it will make Tyva a hub for the entire Eastern Economic Corridor."

What is particularly extraordinary about this railroad?

Ruslan Baysarov: "The Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino section has a very complex landscape and geological conditions. Eight tunnels need to be dug through rock, and 127 bridges must be built. In total, there will be 27 kilometers of bridges and tunnels out of the total 410-kilometer line. There will be over 16 kilometers of culverts alone. Therefore, we thought it was the right idea to work with Russian Railways with its rich experience in construction."

Currently, Tyva can be accessed by air travel and the M-54 and A-162 highways. Why is a railroad necessary?

Ruslan Baysarov: "For freight. The Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino line will carry about 15 million shipments per year. No other mode of transport can ship this much in that amount of time. The Tuva Energy Industrial Corporation is developing the Elegest coal mine in Tyva. It has 855 million tons in reserves and is seven meters thick. For comparison, coal in Kuzbass is mined from three-meter-thick layers and from one-meter-thick layers in Vorkuta.

At the same time, Elegest is only a part of the Ulug-Khem coal basin, the development of which will be a catalyst for the development of the entire East Siberian region. However, the starting point of development will be the Elegest-Kyzyl-Kuragino railroad that will connect the Republic of Tyva with other federal infrastructure."

Your company, SK Most, is building a bridge over the Amur River. How is construction coming along?

Ruslan Baysarov: "In March of this year, we connected the two parts of the first railroad bridge across the Amur River to China near the village of Nizhneleninskoe in the Jewish Autonomous Region. Our companies have built a bridge that is 309 meters long on the Russian side and is really over five kilometers long when taking the adjacent access roads into consideration. In the future, it will allow for the transport of 21 million tons of cargo per year. What makes it unique is that it is designed for trains of different track gauges—a width of 1,520 millimeters for Russian rolling stock and 1,435 millimeters for Chinese. This is certainly a very important project that will strengthen trade and economic ties between the two countries and will shorten the existing routes to consumers in China and Southeast Asia by more than 1,700 kilometers."

What other projects is the company working on?

Ruslan Baysarov: "The company is building the second Baikal tunnel as part of the BAM and Trans-Siberian modernization. In addition, we are building another cross-border bridge near ​​the city of Blagoveshchensk. It will be the first highway bridge from Russia to China across the Amur River. We are also digging tunnels for the Moscow Metro, among many other projects."

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