NOVO-OGAREVO, July 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin participated in the inauguration ceremony for the start of railway traffic through the second Baikal tunnel on Wednesday via a video link.
Builders, operations specialists and executives of Russian Railways and USK Most dealing with the facility construction took part in the inauguration ceremony.
CEO of Russian Railways Oleg Belozerov reported that all systems were up and running and requested to start the traffic. "You have my permission," the President replied.
The train near the western tunnel entry started moving and in ten minutes the participants greeted the arrival of the train from the eastern entry.
The new tunnel crosses the Baikal ridge and connects two Russian regions: the western portal is situated in the Irkutsk Region and the eastern one - in the Republic of Buryatia, the Kremlin’s press service said earlier. Development underground reached 6,682 meters in challenging geological conditions. The progress hit 300 meters per month, with the tunnel running to a depth of up to 300 meters.
Construction of the tunnel started in 2014 as part of the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railways upgrade and development project.
The old single-track Baikal tunnel, built in 1985, was one of the bottlenecks on the Baikal-Amur Mainline. The new tunnel is situated 35 away from the old one and, now that it is open, the traffic will now be on both tracks. The throughput capacity of the segment will surge 2.5-fold from 13.2 to 32.4 mln tonnes of cargo annually after the opening of the second tunnel.