Russia Studies Rail Link To The Arctic Barents Sea

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Proposals likely to include rail links to Indiga, a new Arctic Port with a capacity to 200 million tonnes by 2025

Russian President Vladimir Putin has tasked his government with submitting proposals to build a railway link to the Barents Sea coast as Moscow races to develop the Arctic. The President has made Russia’s Arctic region a strategic priority and ordered massive investment in military infrastructure and mineral extraction.

Putin ordered Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin to “submit proposals for the creation of a railway route to the Barents Sea,” the Kremlin said late on Friday. The deadline to present the proposals is May 10, the Kremlin added, without providing further details.

The end point of the railway track is expected to be the settlement of Indiga in the Arctic region of Nenets where Russia is hoping to begin building a year-round port, as Russia pushes for more of its global cargo flow to go north. A new year-round port near Indiga in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug (Province), connected to the Belkomur railway, could be an attractive trade route across the Eurasian continent.

The development of the Northern Sea Route is closely linked to Russia’s Arctic push and Moscow has channelled large sums into a fleet of icebreakers and ice-class tankers.

The likely candidate is a 500 km additional railway from Karpogory to Indiga as part of Russia’s larger Arctic infrastructure strategy.

Indiga, currently a small village on the coast of the Barents Sea, has already received a US$5 million investment to prepare for the construction of a deepwater year-round port. Additional funding will be made when this phase is completed when the large-scale construction work for the port facilities starts in 2023. Total investments may exceed 300 billion rubles (US$4 billion) before a planned grand opening of the port in 2025, according to the private investment fund AEON Corporation.

Russia’s new Arctic hub in Indiga will have a capacity to handle 80 to 200 million tons of cargo per year.

Acting Arkhangelsk governor Aleksandr Tsybulsky has been quoted as saying that the proposed rail to Indiga “in general, it’s absolutely normal, uncomplicated terrain, there is no particularly expensive work’.”  Construction of the railway, a side-track from the larger projected Belkomur line, is estimated at 200 billion rubles (US$2.6 billion)

Belkomur is the longtime planned rail line from Solikamsk in the Urals via Syktyvkar in the Komi Republic to Arkhangelsk by the White Sea. This railway across Russia’s European north will cut the distance from the Urals and Siberia to Arkhangelsk by 800 kilometers.

In 2018, Finland and Norway also said they would jointly explore building an Arctic rail link from northern Finland to the Barents Sea coast.

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