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Russia-Japan railway corridor to require 75% budgetary funding of project costs

Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said, the corridor was "a project for next decade"

MOSCOW, January 14. /TASS/. Project of a direct railway corridor between Russia and Japan will require budgetary funding of no less than 75% of the total costs, Russian Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov told reporters on Friday.

Along with it, he admitted the corridor was "a project for next decade".

"As for bringing in the off-budget investment, a preview modeling of the project has shown it won’t be workable if budgetary funding covers less than 75% of the costs and even then the investments will pay back with much difficulty and there’ll be a need for support all the same," Sokolov said.

He added that it was too early yet to specify the cost of the project but private investment might cover one-fourth of it at the very best.

"First it’s important to make certain on technological solutions," Sokolov said. "A number of proposals have already been made and construction of a bridge or tunnel with a length of over 40 km is possible but first we must ensure a reliable transport link between (the Isle of) Sakhalin and mainland Russia and this will require an overhaul of several hundred kilometers of railway lines."

He recalled along with it that the regions of the Russian Far East were located in a zone of high seismic risks and Russian safety standards prohibited construction of tunnels there.

To get down to the implementation of the momentous project, it was also important to assess the prospective size of the transit cargo flows between Europe and Japan via Russia, Sokolov said.

Dr. Pavel Ivankin, the Director General of the Institute for Research on Railway Transport, a direct railway corridor between Russia and Japan might cost around 1 trillion rubles (around $ 16.13 billion). He believes that construction of links between Sakhalin and mainland Russia, as well as Sakhalin and Hokkaido should begin simultaneously and is likely to take from three to five years with account of exploration and engineering works.

Dr. Ivankin pointed out the high potential of the hypothetical transit route in terms of passenger service, saying along with it that the prospects for cargo haulage through it required more detailed assessments.

Vice-President of Russia’s state railway corporation RZD Vyacheslav Pavlovsky told TASS earlier construction of a permanent overpass between Sakhalin and the mainland might cost an estimated 400 billion rubles (around $ 6.5 billion).

As for the second stage of the project, or the construction of the corridor between Sakhalin and Hokkaido, Pavlovsky pointed out a need for comprehensive and complicated studies "for detailing the feasibility research". He admitted a possibility of a sizable synergic effect the direct railway corridor between Russia and Japan could bring.