Putin Opens Second Baikal Tunnel to Train Traffic

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in the opening ceremony for the start of railway traffic via the second Baikal tunnel via video link.

The majority of those involved in the facility’s development, including builders, operations professionals, and officials from Russian Railways and USK, attended the opening event.

Oleg Belozerov, CEO of Russian Railways, confirmed that all systems were operational and urged that traffic be resumed. “You have my approval,” said the President.

The train at the western tunnel opening began moving, and the participants hailed the arrival of the train from the eastern entry in 10 minutes.

The new tunnel spans the Baikal ridge and unites two Russian regions: the western portal is in the Irkutsk Region, while the eastern portal is in the Republic of Buryatia, according to the Kremlin’s press department. Under difficult geological circumstances, development below reached a depth of 6,682 meters. The tunnel is running to a depth of up to 300 meters, and progress has been made at a rate of 300 meters each month.

The tunnel’s construction began in 2014 as part of the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railroads’ upgrade and development projects.

One of the bottlenecks on the Baikal-Amur Mainline was the ancient single-track Baikal tunnel, completed in 1985. The new tunnel is 35 meters distant from the old one, and now that it is open, vehicles will be able to go on both tracks. After the second tunnel opens, the segment’s throughput capacity will increase 2.5-fold, from 13.2 to 32.4 million tonnes of freight per year.