Most likely there will not be a bridge to Sakhalin

The government believes that cargo is not enough for him.
On Wednesday at the Eastern Economic Forum, Vladimir Putin was waiting for the final decision: to build or not a bridge to Sakhalin. But he again instructed to calculate whether there would be enough freight to make it economically recoupable, and suggested that regions be included in the calculations.

Vedomosti learned that the cargo is not enough: basically it would be coal, but so far none of the cargo owners expressed interest in transshipping coal through Sakhalin, the federal official knows. This was confirmed by another official and top managers of the three coal companies.

The general director of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov wrote to Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich in August (the authenticity of the document was confirmed by a person close to RZhD and an official) that the cargo base for the bridge to Sakhalin is now estimated at 8.5 million tons, and with the planned construction of a new deep-sea port in 46.9 million

In the financial model of the project, an incorrect freight traffic was laid, says the head of the department of railway transport research of the IPEM Vladimir Savchuk. Because of doubts about the correctness of the assessment of cargo traffic and the cost of building a bridge, it is inexpedient to say that Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov, three officials say. It is doubtful that a bridge is necessary, and presidential aide Andrei Belousov, said the top manager of the coal company and the official. The investment attractiveness of the project is incorrectly calculated, the risk is high that the project will become commercially inefficient, complains the person who got acquainted with government documents. Payback is not achieved without money from the federal budget, one of them says, he continues, while in another it says that if they are allocated, there is a risk of unreasonable waste of funds.

Dig deeper

The flow of coal from coal deposits, which can be developed before 2025, is accounted for in the Long-Term Development Program of Russian Railways, say top managers of the two coal companies. According to one of them, additional coal can only be from the Kuzbass. In the name of the bridge, RZD was supposed to carry cargo from Mongolia and Kazakhstan, its materials say.

According to the representative of the Russian Railways, the railway from Selikhin in the Khabarovsk Territory to Nysh on Sakhalin with a bridge is linked to the project of the Eastern range of the railway network: by 2025, 30 million of 195 million tons of cargo destined for the Far Eastern ports can be redirected to Sakhalin. Approaches to the mainland ports, even if all current plans are fulfilled, will be overflowed, according to RZD. Investments of Russian Railways in the bridge to Sakhalin can pay off in 26 years, says a representative of RZD. Savchuk believes that the use of the Selikhin-Nysh line will increase transportation costs: to the coal port on Sakhalin will be noticeably farther than to the already operating ports.

The new coal port on Sakhalin, he continues, will require significant investments, their reimbursement will increase the cost of transshipment. There is enough existing transshipment base for coal miners, there are no wagons to take out coal, the top manager of the coal company says. The government does not understand how expedient it is to export coal through Sakhalin, the federal official confirms.

"The very idea of ​​Sakhalin's development may well be good, but it's not necessary to impose special economic incentives on coal miners of Sakhalin," says one of the coal miners.

Carry more expensive

The throughput capacity of the Eastern testing range on approaches to the Selikhin-Nysh line is not enough to transfer coal through Sakhalin, another argument is given by Savchuk, the expansion is planned by 2023 - this is the second stage of BAM.

With her and the approaches, the bridge project over Sakhalin is estimated at more than 1.1 trillion rubles, officials said, without this - in 543 billion (excluding VAT): 252.8 billion - the bridge itself, the rest - approaches to it, wrote Belozerov.

But if new coal deposits are to be developed to load the Sakhalin bridge, even 1.2 trillion rubles. will not be enough, will have to expand the capabilities of the entire Far Eastern railway, warned the top managers of the two coal companies and a federal official. In the feasibility study of the Eastern landfill, it is said that the bridge to Sakhalin will not cause a redistribution of cargo flows, Savchuk explains their words.

In particular, in order to bring coal to Sakhalin, a second line of the Severomuisk tunnel is needed, but in calculations of the Sakhalin bridge these costs are not present, say the top manager of the coal company and the federal official. It's hundreds of billions of rubles, the top manager of the coal company estimates.

"The full cost of the bridge to Sakhalin will be much more expensive than it is now announced, but no one has calculated how many exactly," sighs the official.

Look further

Solving the problem of loading the bridge to Sakhalin could have another bridge - from Sakhalin to Hokkaido. Putin said that Japan could jointly with Russia finance the construction of a transport crossing to Hokkaido.

But while negotiations with Japan are difficult, say a person who knows this from a member of the Federation Council, a participant in government meetings, two federal officials, as well as a person familiar with the content of the talks. "For Japan, it's a matter of whether it thinks of itself as a continental state," one official said. At the Eastern Economic Forum, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not rule out the construction of a transfer to Hokkaido, if experts consider it cost-effective.

According to the source of Vedomosti, close to the government of one of the countries of Northeast Asia, the parties did not conduct a serious discussion of the Hokkaido-Sakhalin compound, its economic expediency is currently lacking.

Representatives of coal companies declined to comment, the Finance Ministry said that they did not see the calculations, and representatives of the Ministry of Transport, the Economic Development Ministry and Akimov did not answer the questions.

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There are no ports on Sakhalin, the railway is there with the Japanese track, the top manager of the coal company is perplexed. "For the money that will cost the bridge, you can build 10 large terminals for 30-40 million tons of cargo, it is 400 million tons, 2 times more freight turnover of the entire Trans-Siberian Railway. Theoretically, a bridge would be needed if the Japanese were interested in carrying cargo by rail from Hokkaido to Europe and China if there were roads. But this is already a field of unscientific fiction, "he sneers. - Given the high seismicity, winds and storms, the construction and operation of the bridge can be very problematic, but there will be no cargo. The sea is cheaper. In the deserts, such bridges are not built. They are usually built between large cities with steady flows: Macao - Hong Kong, the Øresund bridge from Copenhagen to Malmö. Even Eresund was empty for six years, the payback period is 36 years. And this is not Sakhalin, but a densely populated Europe. " "We have a global project, bigger than BAM, based solely on ROS technologies - cut-out - rollback - skidding," he concludes.