The tunnel was built in parallel to the existing one and is one of the largest artificial structures in Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has opened the railway traffic through the new Baikal tunnel. The opening ceremony of the tunnel was held via videoconference.
The construction of the facility was carried out by specialists of the SK MOST Group of Companies.
“Today, we are launching railway traffic through the second line of the Baikal tunnel. Its creation is undoubtedly a great, important achievement for the national transport sector and very important for the entire Russian economy as well… And, of course, I would like to warmly thank the specialists who took part in the construction of the new Baikal tunnel. You have done a great, enormous job, solved complicated technological problems, made a significant contribution to the modernization of the BAM,” said the President.
Oleg Belozerov, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways, Aleksey Tsydenov, Head of the Republic of Buryatia, and Ruslan Baisarov, Chairman of the Board of Directors of USK MOST JSC, reported to the President on the readiness of the tunnel while standing at the eastern portal of the new facility. Oleg Belozerov emphasized that the new tunnel was built 5 months ahead of deadline.
“The total length is 6,682 lineal metres. Tunnel drivage and tunnel lining were carried out simultaneously; the total amount of the finishing materials is 180,000 tonnes; it is comparable to 3,000 train carriages loaded with finishing materials that we brought here from Krasnoyarsk, where we had manufactured and assembled them at our own plant. 427 km of cables were laid. Video surveillance cameras were installed, and I would like to emphasize that they were produced in Russia. These are the cameras with self-cleaning optics,” Ruslan Baisarov said.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of USK MOST JSC stressed that modern portal gates have been installed in the tunnel, thanks to which a constant temperature of +9 °C degrees is maintained in the tunnel. At the same time, in case of emergency, if necessary, a locomotive can break through them without causing any damage to the rolling stock, he added.
After listening to the reports, Vladimir Putin gave permission to launch the traffic through the site.
“Permission granted,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin and Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev congratulated the builders on the launch of the traffic. Vitaly Savelyev suggested to reward the builders and employees of Russian Railways for “the excellent work done in the shortest possible time”. Marat Khusnullin, in turn, urged to start the third phase of the BAM and the Trans-Siberian Railway development project.
“An excellent job has been done. I think that we should not stop here. We must immediately proceed to the third phase. We have Kuznetsovsky Tunnel. It took us five and a half years to build this tunnel and the new Kuznetsovsky Tunnel should be built in four years,” he noted.
The new Baikal tunnel is one of the largest artificial structures in Russia, the third longest railway tunnel.
The length of the structure is 6,682 linear meters. In addition to the tunnel itself, two drainage adits were built: eastern adit with a length of 1,748 lm and western adit with a length of 1,500 lm.
The construction of the tunnel began in May 2014, the tunnel driving was completed in March 2018, and the main construction and installation work was finished in December 2020.