Putin Approves $16bn High-Speed Railway Mega Project

Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved the construction of a high-speed highway from Moscow to St. Petersburg, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has confirmed after reports by Vedomosti and Kommersant.

Putin wrote “I Agree” in a letter with a proposal for the resumption of the project, which he sent the acting governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov and CEO of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov.

Beglov and Belozerov believe that travel time between Moscow and St. Petersburg will be reduced to two hours on the expressway, and passenger traffic will increase from 11 million to 33 million people per year.

Speaking about the grounds for the project’s approval, Peskov mentioned the need to connect the two largest cities in the country with high-speed rail links.

“Increasing the speed of this connection by an extra hundred kilometers [per hour] will accelerate the circulation of economic life along these railway “capillaries” in general,” the Kremlin representative added.

The cost of the project is not mentioned in the document. In 2015, Russian Railways estimated the railway’s price tag at $15 billion but according to experts consulted by Vedomosti, the cost could now be as high as $16 billion.

According to Peskov, the final decision on another major infrastructure project, the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway, has not been made yet.

“No final decision has been taken, the work will be continued to clarify the economic feasibility, economic opportunities, timing, and so on,” he said.