The second Baikal tunnel at the administrative border between Irkutsk Region and Buryatia is a critically important project to modernise the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Once the tunnel is opened, the traffic capacity of this section will increase two and half times. The tunnel has been under conduction since October 2014, and the first train will run through it in 2019.
Prior to the video call, Vladimir Putin toured the infrastructure project exhibition that is part of the Congress of Transport Workers of Russia. The President was updated on the progress of sea and river transport projects, the development of roads and railways, and professional training in the industry.
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Video call with the construction site of the second Baikal tunnel
Head of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov: Mr President,
Today is a remarkable day as we are completing the Baikal tunnel, which is one of our country’s largest infrastructure projects as part of upgrading the Baikal-Amur Mainline.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: How many kilometres is it?
Oleg Belozerov: 6.7 kilometres. We will now show you a short video.
Vladimir Putin: According to the Minister, this is the third largest in the country.
Oleg Belozerov: In terms of length, yes. The longest is 16 kilometres, and the next one is 7 kilometres.
(A video runs.)
Oleg Belozerov: Mr President, Severobaikalsk is on the line.
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon.
Remark: Good afternoon.
Oleg Belozerov: Mr President, please give the command to complete the tunneling.
Vladimir Putin: I would like to congratulate you on this accomplishment. This is a big event in expanding our country's transport system. Maybe you have heard, I mentioned it in my address. What you did here is, of course, part of our primary effort to extend our freight transport system eastward. This is the fastest-paying project among our transport projects. This is a large, critically important and complex effort. I congratulate you on this accomplishment and hope that it is not your last.
Remark: Mr President,
The construction of the new Baikal tunnel is completed.
Vladimir Putin: Today, you and all transport workers are celebrating a big event, the completion of this major project, this new tunnel.
As you know, it took 10 years to build the previous tunnel during the construction of the Baikal-Amur Mainline. You completed this one in two years with excellent results and incredible precision. The head of Russian Railways just reminded me that with a possible tolerance of 100 millimetres, the work was done within just 16 millimetres (the accuracy is measured in millimeters, correct?) This is, in a way, also one of our precision-guided weapons, which is great.
Most importantly, freight traffic capacity will increase two and half times. This is, no doubt, a big event in the life of our country and the development of our country's transport system in this most important eastward direction. Congratulations, and I am sure many more such successes are coming.
Looking at the tunneling shield, I would like to say that this is also, to a certain extent, the legacy of the Olympic Games, since this equipment was brought here after the work at the Olympic sites was completed, where many kilometres of tunnels were built and new transport arteries were created. We built 22 tunnels there, and then brought the equipment here for further use.
Of course, nothing would be possible without such enthusiastic people as you. Once again, congratulations, and I wish you every success. Thank you very much.