Vladimir Putin instructed the cabinet to work out the issue of building a bridge that would link Sakhalin Island to the mainland. "I instructed the government to work through all this," the Russian president said at a meeting with the governor of Sakhalin Oblast Oleg Kozhemyako on July 24, responding to the request of the head of the region to express his opinion about the need to build a bridge.
Putin explained that he is aware of the ongoing discussions over decades about the construction of this facility and understands this issue "and in terms of justice for the Sakhalin people." "This is an old dream of those who live on Sakhalin, including this would be a significant factor that strengthens the population, people. You can come, go anywhere at any time of the year, in any weather, everything is clear. This would lead to the development of the north of Khabarovsk Krai, because it is necessary to make approaches, "the Russian leader said. "I want to help very much, we need to look at the economy," he added.
The project to create a transport transition to Sakhalin was discussed in the early 2000s. He proposed the construction of a new railway (about 580 km) from the Transsib, a railway and automobile bridge across the Tatar Strait (7.5 km), and the modernization of the Sakhalin railway network (about 870 km). In 2002, a government examination was carried out, which showed that from a technical point of view the project is being implemented. Its cost was estimated at $ 4.5 billion, of which $ 2 billion went for the construction of a new railway branch and bridge, $ 2.5 billion - for the modernization of the railway system on Sakhalin.
Again about the transport transition to Sakhalin started talking at the first Eastern Economic Forum, which was held in September 2015. Then only the incoming head of RZD Oleg Belozerov said that this project is quite real and can be realized. "Now the feasibility study is being developed. I think that this is a very real project in the near future, "Belozerov said.
In 2016, the Sakhalin people organized a collection of signatures in support of the construction of the bridge. "The eastern part of Russia is losing its population at a terrible rate, which is trying to move to more comfortable cities. Without good roads, there can be neither cities, nor industry, "the petition said. In the comments to her, people pointed out that, like the Crimeans, they deserve that a bridge be built on Sakhalin. However, the petition collected only slightly more than 3 thousand signatures.
The bridge to the Crimea, the construction of which began in February 2016, cost the budget 230 billion rubles. This project pushed aside not only potential projects, like a bridge to Sakhalin, but also already worked out and received approval - the construction of the dry cargo area Taman and the bridge across the Lena.
The economy of the bridge is doubtful
Over the past few years, several large-scale expensive infrastructure projects have been implemented in Russia - the Winter Olympics, the World Cup, the Crimean Bridge, and now the state needs to choose new targets for investment, says Mikhail Ganelin, an analyst with the Aton investment company.
The CEO of INFOLine-Analytics Mikhail Burmistrov agrees with him, adding that the state has already announced its readiness to invest large sums in infrastructure. Within the new presidential term of Vladimir Putin, the cost of health, education and infrastructure development is planned to increase by 10 trillion rubles, Bloomberg estimates in April.
However, experts are not sure that the bridge to Sakhalin will receive financing. "I would not say that the bridge to Sakhalin will already be built," Mikhail Ganelin said, adding that the government needs to understand the economic feasibility. The analyst reminds that there are other large-scale projects that also claim for state financing - the high-speed Moscow-Kazan highway, the construction of a bridge across the Lena and others.
"While economic sense in this project does not look at all," Burmistrov said. According to him, unlike the Crimean bridge, where "there was an obvious powerful geopolitical component - it had to be built in any situation," in the situation with Sakhalin there is "no geopolitics or economic expediency." Burmistrov believes that the Sakhalin project can be interesting from the economic point of view only in relation to the construction of a bridge to Japan and the creation of a transit corridor.
The managing partner of the Veta expert group, Ilya Zharsky, agrees with him. "From the economic point of view, the crossing is unlikely to pay off," he points out, pointing to a small population in the region. "Obviously, without continuing in Hokkaido, it will be a more irretrievable investment," Zharsky said.
Who could build
According to recent estimates, the cost of the transition to Sakhalin is 2.3 times higher than the Crimean project. According to the long-term development program of RZD until 2025, which is available to RBC, the construction of the crossing across the Tatar Strait and approaches is estimated at 540 billion rubles. At the same time, federal budget expenditures amount to 250 billion rubles, the source of the remaining funds is not specified. Zharsky believes that there may be different funds - the Far East Development Fund, the Sakhalin Oblast Development Corporation or the Infrastructure Mortgage Fund.
If the project is approved, it is obvious that the Russian Railways will be involved in the construction, says Zharsky, since most of it is accounted for by railway infrastructure. Burmistrov believes that the project can participate Stroygazmontazh Arcadia Rothenberg, who builds a bridge to the Crimea. Transferring the contract to this company, the state will support business, which was under sanctions due to involvement in solving geopolitical problems, Burmistrov said.
The representative of Arkady Rotenberg told RBC that while there is no project to build a bridge to Sakhalin, it is premature to talk about participation in it.
Meanwhile, RZD is already preparing a feasibility study for the Sakhalin project, said in early July, Deputy Chief Engineer of the Far Eastern Railroad Sergei Drokin. According to him, it will be ready in December, after which it is submitted to the government of Russia. "If the government makes a positive decision, the work is scheduled to begin in 2021. According to preliminary estimates, the construction can last about five years ", - noted Drokin.