Baikal–Amur Mainline

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Map of major railways in Russia, with Trans Siberian Railway shown in red, the Baikal-Amur Mainline in green and the Amur–Yakutsk Mainline (including "Little BAM") shown in orange
Baikal Amur Mainline
km Station
0 Tayshet Eastern Siberian railway
Irkutsk Oblast (Moscow time + 5h)
10 Akulshet
30 Kostomarovo
48 Toporok
57 Nevelskaya
97 Parchum
117 Novochunka
124 Chuna
129 Sosnovye Rodniki (Oktyabrsky)
142 Chuna (Chunsky)
154 Izykan
167 Targiz
177 Chuksha
191 Keshevo
210 Toreya
226 Ognevka
246 Turma
259 Balaga
269 Vikhorevka
284 Morgudon
Bratsk city centre (Novobratsk, 20 km)
293 Anzyobi (Bratsk)
Bratsk city centre (Novobratsk, 17 km)
304 Galachinsky
310 Bratskoye More
326 Padunskoye Porogi
328 Energetik
329 Angara
(Dam wall of Bratsk Reservoir, ca. 4400 m)
339 Gidrostroytel
369 Zyaba
378 Pashenny
403 Kezhemskaya
416 Mamyr
436 Rechushka
461 Vidim
480 Sokhaty
502 Chornaya
523 Seleznyovo
533 Ilim (Ust-Ilimsk Reservoir)
535 Sredneilimskaya
541 Zhelezny
550 Korshunovsky-Tunnel, ca. 1100 m
552 Korshunikha-Angarskaya (Zheleznogorsk-Ilimsky)
562 Sibirishnaya
573 Khrebtovaya
to Ust-Ilimsk (215 km)
589 Karstovaya
611 Semigorsk
620 Merelotnaya
646 Kaymonovo
652 Kuta
661 Rychey
672 Yantal
685 Kuta
713 Ust-Kut
720 Lena (Ust-Kut)
730 Yakurim
734 Lena-Vostochnaya
737 Lena
739 Predlensky
759 Chudnichny
769 Kalpshny
784 Zvyozdnaya
805 Irdykan
823 Niya
853 Nebel
867 Marikta
874 Ukhanga
889 Kirenga (Magistralny)
908 Okunaysky
915 Kirenga
930 Ulkan
948 Umbella
960 Kalakachan
982 Kunerma
997 Delbichinda
1007 Baikal (Daban) tunnel (6686 m)
1010 Irkutsk Oblast-Buryatia
1014
1014 Daban
1028 Goudzhekit
1043 Tyya
1063 Severobaikalsk
1067 4 tunnels, together ca. 4500m
1090 Nizhneangarsk
1105 Kholodnaya
1127 Kichera
1164 Kiron
1182 Angoya
1193 Ogdynda
1210 Ogney
1228 Anamakit
1235 Upper Angara River
1242 Novy Uoyan
1249 Bakany
1277 Yanchuy
1296 Churo
1315 Kyukhelbekerskaya (Yanchikan)
1330 Kovokta
1344 Angarakan
Severomuysky Tunnel Diversion
1354 Severomuysky Tunnel (15.343 m)
Severomuysky Tunnel Diversion
1370 Okusikan
1374 Kasankan (Severomuysk)
1385 Severomuysk
1397 Arkum
1414 Ulgi
1460 Muyakan
1469 Taksimo
1492 Lodya
1508 Aku
1533 Shivery
1535 Vitim; Buryatia-Zabaykalsky Krai (Moscow time + 6h)
1543 Koyra
1561 Kuanda
1584 Taku
1602 Balbukhta
1617 Syulban
1637 Naledny
1645 Kodar tunnel (1981 m)
1650 Kodar
1668 Leprindo
1679 Sallikit
1713 Chara
Chineyskoye mines (66 km; 26 km in operation)
1719 Novaya Chara
1740 Kemen
1757 Ikabya
1770 Olongo
1835 Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
1864 Khani Far-east Railway
1866 Amur Oblast
Olyokma
Tas-Yuryakh
1918 Olyokma
1922 Sakha Republic (Yakutia)
1927 Amur Oblast
2013 Yuktali
2033 Taluma
2058 Dyugabul
2121 Chilchi
2171 Lopcha
2186 Elgakan
2216 Larba
2241 Lumbir
2268 Khorogochi
2309 Kuvykta
from Bamovskaya (Trans-Siberian Railway, 179 km)
2348 Tynda
2369 Shakhtaum
2365 Gilyuy
2375 Bestuzhevo
Amur–Yakutsk Mainline
2409 Gilyuy (2 Bridges)
2436 Marevaya
2494 Unakha
2511 Dipkun
2560 Tutaul
to Elginskoye (ca. 300 km, under construction)
2687 Zeya (Zeya reservoir)
2690 Verkhnezeysk
2706 Apetenok
2734 Izhak
2757 Ulyanovsky Stroitel
2779 Ogoron
2803 Moldavsky
2833 Miroshnichenko
2846 Tungala
2865 Kamnega
2894 Dugda
2919 Nora
2940 Meun
2957 Drogoshevsk
2983 Skalisty
3000 Chervinka
3012 Selemdzha
3017 Fevralsk
3035 Zvonkoye
3060 Demchenko
3082 Isakan
3101 Isa
3129 Mustakh
3149 Ulma
3155 Khabarovsky Krai (Moscow time + 7h)
3162 Etyrken
3195 Shugara
3247 Alonka
3292 Bureya
from Isvestkovy (Trans-Siberian railway, 326 km)
3298 Novy Urgal
3312 Urgal-I
to Chegdomyn (16 km)
3324 Chemchuko
3339 Mugule
3365 Soloni
3384 Dusse-Alin
3382 Dusse-Alin Tunnel (ca. 1800 m)
3402 Suluk
3422 Mogdy
3434 Orokot
3456 Gerbi
3481 Ukraltu
3494 Badzhal
Amgun (3 Bridges)
3513 Dzhamku
3525 Sektali
3542 Eanga
3262 Amgun
3579 Sonakh
3595 Ebgun
3615 Postyshevo (Beryosovy)
3621 Amgun
3638 Bolen
3659 Moni
3679 Evoron
3702 Kharpichan
3715 Gorin
3740 Mavrinsky
Khurmuli
3775 Lian
3789 Khalgaso
3799 Silinka
to Komsomolsk-on-Amur and Dzemgi
3819
0
Komsomolsk-Sortirovochny
to Khabarovsk (351 km)
Amur river
0 Pivan
28 Gayter
41 Kartel
52 Selikhino
dismantled link to Sakhalin
63 Eldigan
82 Poni
95 Kun
112 Gurskoye
139 Uktur
160 Kenay
182 Oune
195 Otkosnaya
203 Kuznetsovsky tunnel (1800 m)
220 Vysokogornaya
240 Datta
261 Kenada
274 Dzhigdasi
303 Tuluchi
318 Akur
340 Tumnin
366 Khutu
376 Imbo
380 Ust-Orochi
399 Mongokhto
403 Landyshi
424 Toki
434 Vanino
Train ferry to Kholmsk (Sakhalin)
442 Sovestskaya Gavan-Sortirovochny
458 Desna
468 Sovetskaya Gavan

The Baikal–Amur Mainline (Russian Байкало-Амурская магистраль (БАМ), Baikalo-Amurskaya magistral '​, BAM) is a 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 2732 in) broad gauge railway line in Russia. Traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, the 4,324 km (2,687 mi) long BAM runs about 610 to 770 km (380 to 480 miles) north of and parallel to the Trans-Siberian railway.

The BAM was built as a strategic alternative route to the Trans-Siberian Railway, especially along the vulnerable sections close to the border with China. The BAM's costs were estimated at $14 billion, and it was built with special, durable tracks since much of it was built over permafrost. Due to the severe terrain, weather, length and cost Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev described BAM as "the construction project of the century."[1]

Route[edit]

The BAM departs from the Trans-Siberian railway at Tayshet, then crosses the Angara River at Bratsk and the Lena River at Ust-Kut, proceeds past Severobaikalsk at the northern tip of Lake Baikal, past Tynda and Khani, crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure and finally reaches the Pacific Ocean at Sovetskaya Gavan. There are 21 tunnels along the line, with a total length of 47 km (29 mi). There are also more than 4,200 bridges, with a total length of over 400 km (about 260 miles).[2]

Of the whole route, only the western Tayshet-Taksimo sector of 1,469 km (913 mi) is electrified. The route is largely single-track, although the reservation is wide enough for double-tracking for its full length, in the case of eventual duplication.

At Tynda the route is crossed by the Amur–Yakutsk Mainline, which runs north to Neryungri and Tommot, with an extension to Yakutsk under construction. The original section of the AYaM connecting the Trans-Siberian at Bamovskaya with the BAM at Tynda is also referred to as the "Little BAM".

During the winter the only passenger trains go from Moscow past Tayshet and Tynda towards Yakutsk. Travel time from Tayshet to Tynda is 48 hours.[3]

History[edit]

Early plans and start of construction[edit]

The route of the present-day BAM was first considered in the 1880s as an option for the eastern section of the Trans-Siberian railway.

The section from Tayshet to Bratsk was built in the 1930s using the labor of labor camp inmates, in particular the Bamlag camp of the Gulag system. In a confusing transfer of names, the label BAM was applied in 1933–35 to the project to double-track the Trans-Siberian east of Lake Baikal, largely using forced labor.[4]

In 1945 the final plans for the BAM needed upgrading for diesel or electric instead of steam traction, and for heavier axle loads of eight-axle oil tankers to carry new-found oil from Western Siberia. The upgrading required 25 years and 3,000 surveyors and designers, although much of the redesign work took place from 1967 to 1974, particularly as regards the central section.[4]

Construction project of the century[edit]

A rally in Ust-Ilimsk, Irkutsk Region, on the occasion of the arrival of a building team for construction of the Baikal-Amur Railway. 1979.

In March 1974, Soviet General Secretary Brezhnev proposed that the BAM would be one of the two major projects in the Tenth Five Year Plan (1976–80).[4] He famously stated that "BAM will be constructed with clean hands only!" and firmly rejected the suggestion to again use prison labor. A few weeks later he challenged the Young Communist League (Komsomol) to join in "the construction project of the century."[1] 17th Komsomol congress (held in April 1974) announced BAM a shock-work (intensive) Komsomol construction project, created the central Komsomol headquarters of BAM construction, and appointed Dmitry Filippov the chief of the headquarters.

By the end of 1974 perhaps 50,000 young people of the 156,000 young people who applied had moved to the BAM service area. In 1975 and 1976 28 new settlements were inaugurated, and 70 new bridges including the Amur and Lena bridges were erected. And while 110 miles (180 km) of track was laid, the tracklaying rate would have needed to nearly triple to meet the 1983 deadline.[4]

In September 1984, a "golden spike", akin to one used in Utah in 1869, was hammered into place, connecting the eastern and western sections of the BAM. The Western media was not invited to attend this historic event as Soviet officials did not want any comments about the line's operational status. In reality, only one third of the BAM's track was fully operational for civilians, due to military reasons.[5]

The BAM was again declared complete in 1991. By then, the total cost to build the line was US$14 billion.

Crisis[edit]

Beginning in the mid-1980s, the BAM-project attracted increasing criticism for bad planning. Infrastructure and basic services like running water were often not in place when workers arrived. At least 60 boomtowns developed around the route, but nowadays a lot of these places are deserted ghost towns and unemployment in the area is high. The building of the BAM has also been criticised for its complete lack of environmental protection.[6]

When Soviet Union was dissolved, numerous mining and industrial projects in the region were cancelled, and the BAM was greatly underutilized until the late 1990s, running at a large operational deficit.

In 1996, the BAM as a single operational body was dissolved, with the western section from Tayshet to Khani becoming the East Siberian Railway, the rest transferred to the management of the Far Eastern Railway.

Current situation and future prospects[edit]

A major improvement was the opening of the 15,343-meter (9.534 mi) Severomuysky Tunnel on December 5, 2003. It is up to 1.5 kilometres (nearly 1 mile) deep. Construction took 27 years to complete. Prior to this, the corresponding route segment was 54 km (34 mi) long, with heavy slopes necessitating the use of auxiliary (helper) locomotives.

With the resources boom of recent years and improving economic conditions in Russia, use of the line is increasing. Plans exist for the development of mining areas such as Udokanskoye and Chineyskoye near Novaya Chara, as well as one of Eurasia's largest coal deposits at Elginskoye (Elga) in the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). In connection with this, a number of branch lines have been built or are under construction.

In January 2012 the Russian mining company Mechel completed the construction of the 320-kilometer-long branch line to Elginskoye, branching from the BAM station Ulak, west of the Zeya River crossing in northwestern Amur Oblast.[7][8] The branch line connects the Elginskoye coal mine to the Russian railroad network.

It is also intended that the BAM should become an alternative route for container transport between Europe and the Pacific, although the single-track nature of most of the route and the lack of suitable connections at the eastern end currently stand in the way. Currently under discussion is the construction of a tunnel under the Strait of Tartary to Sakhalin Island, with the possibility of the further construction of a bridge or tunnel from Sakhalin to Japan. A tunnel from the mainland to Sakhalin was previously begun under Joseph Stalin, but was abandoned after his death. A second attempt in 2003 was also postponed during construction. Current economic conditions make the short-term completion of the tunnel doubtful, although Russian president Dmitry Medvedev announced in November 2008 his support for a revival of this project.[9]

The BAM now also attracts the interest of Western railway enthusiasts, with some tourist activity on the line.[2]

Along the BAM[edit]

Tynda, the "capital" of BAM

Tayshet to Lake Baikal 1064 km: 0: Tayshet: about 300 km east of Krasnoyarsk, Trans-Siberian Railway, M53 highway to Irkutsk. 129: Sosnovye Rodniki: timber port. Chuna River 142: Chuna. 269: Vikhorevka: railway administration. 282: Anzebi: 20 km spur line to Bratsk town. About 330: Bratsk Dam: Railway runs across the top of the dam. 463: Vidim. 546: Sredneilimskaya on the Ust-Ilimsk reservoir. 554: Zheleznogorsk-Ilimsky: mining town. 575: Khrebetovaya: branch line north to Ust-Ilimsk (see branches below); enter Lena basin. Kuta River. 715: Ust-Kut: port on the Lena River where goods are loaded onto boats for transport north. End of the line until 1974. 736: Lena Vostochnaya: east of the Lena, start of the BAM proper from 1974. Line tends east southeast. 786: Zvyozdnaya: first new town built on the BAM. 890: Kirenga: 12 km east is the larger town of Magistralnyy. Kirenga River and bridge. 931: Ul'kan: on the Ulkan branch of the Kirenga. 1005: Delbichenda: last stop before the 6.7 km Baikal Mountain Tunnel (between 1979 and 1984 there was a 15 km bypass over the mountain). 1014: Daben. 1064: Lake Baikal.[2]

Lake Baikal to Tynda 1300 km: 1064: Severobaykalsk. Four small tunnels along the lake. 1104: Nizhneangarsk; leave Lake Baikal, northeast up the valley of the Upper Angara River. 1257: Novy Uoyan: there is talk of building a railroad south from here to the Trans-Siberian. Enter Severomuysk Mountains. Much permafrost from here to Tynda. 1385–1400: Severomuysky Tunnel: 15.7 km long, very difficult construction. Exit mountain. Scenic section with mountains to north and south. Much fog. 1484: Taksimo: end of electrified section. Muya River. 1548: Shivery: leave Buryat Republic. Vitim River. 1577: Kuanda: official 'completion' of the BAM was celebrated here in September 1984. Valley into mountains. 1664: Kodar: Kodar mountains, 1.9 km tunnel. 1734: Novaya Chara. 1879: Khani: the only BAM town in the Sakha Republic. Northernmost point on the line. Line turns south-southeast along the Olyokma River. Enter Amur basin. 2364: Tynda.

Tynda to Komsomolsk 1473 km: 2364: Tynda: Branch railway and highway north to Yakutsk, little BAM south to the Trans-Siberian. 2704: Bridge over Zeya Reservoir. Line heads southeast. 3205: Bureya River bridge. 3315: Novy Urgal: Branch south to Trans-Siberian. 3403: east to Dusse-Alin Tunnel. Northeast up the Amgun River. 3633: Postyshevo: east. 3697: Evoron Lake. southeast to 3837: Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Komsomolsk to Sovetskaya Gavan 486 km. This section was completed by prisoners during World War II, except for the 19 km section east of Komsomolsk which was completed in 1974. Komsomolsk. 1734m Amur River Bridge. 0: Pivan (new numbering system). 51: Selikhin: Branch. 95–340: Sikhote Alin Mountains. 403: Mongokhto 441: Vanino: port, train ferry to Sakhalin Island, practical end of passenger service. 467: Sovetskaya Gavan: naval base.

In April 2008 the state-owned Bamtonnelstroy corporation started work on the new 3.91 km single-track Kuznetsovsk tunnel to bypass an older tunnel built in 1943–1945.[10] It was opened in December 2012. The old tunnel had difficult gradients; building the new tunnel relieved a bottleneck on the BAM.[11] The 59.8 bn roubles (about $1.93 bn) project included 20 km of new track. In 2010, Yakunin had said, the stretch between Komsomolsk and Sovetskaya Gavan was the weakest link on the BAM, which, he said, could be carrying 100 million tons of freight a year in 2050.[12]

Branches[edit]

  • 575: Khrebtovaya to Ust-Ilimsk, 214 km: Opened in 1970, it runs northeast to serve the Ust-Ilimsk Dam.
  • 1257: Novy Uoyan: possible start of line south on east side to Lake Baikal.
  • 2364: Tynda to the Trans-Siberian at Bamovskaya,180 km (the 'Little BAM'): This branch was built by prisoners in 1933–37, torn up in 1942 and its rails shipped to the front and rebuilt in 1972–75.
  • 2364: Tynda to Yakutsk: see Amur–Yakutsk Mainline.
  • 3315: Novy Urgal to the Trans-Siberian at Izvestovskaya,328 km: In the Bureya River basin, it was built mostly by Japanese POWs. There is a 32 km branch north from Novy Urgal to the Chegdomyn coal fields.
  • 3837: Komsomolsk south to Khabarovsk, 374 km; on east side (flood plain) of the Amur. 99 km south: Lake Bolon.
  • 51 (line km restart at Komsomolsk): Selikhin to Cherny Mys, 122 km: north along the Amur. Built 1950–53, it was planned to extend this to a tunnel to Sakhalin Island. There is talk of restarting it.

The BAM road[edit]

Running approximately alongside the railway track is the BAM road, a railway service track. It is said to be in a very poor state, with collapsed bridges, dangerous river crossings, severe potholes and "unrelenting energy-sapping bogs". The road is passable only by the most extreme off-road vehicles and adventure motorcycles. In 2009, a group of three experienced motorcycle riders took a whole month to travel from Komsomolsk (in the east) to Lake Baikal.[13][14]

Honors[edit]

Main belt asteroid 2031 BAM, discovered in 1969 by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh, is named in honor of the builders of the BAM.[15]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Brown, Dale M. and Mann, Martin, editors. Library of Nations: The Soviet Union. 1985. Time Life Books. Alexandria, Virginia. ISBN 0-8094-5327-4
  2. ^ a b c Yates, Athol & Zvegintzov, Nicholas Siberian BAM Guide: Rail, Rivers & Road (1995, 2nd edition 2001, Trailblazer Publications, England) ISBN 1-873756-18-6 (see excerpt)
  3. ^ http://rzd.ru
  4. ^ a b c d Shabad, Theodore and Mote, Victor L: Gateway to Siberian Resources (The BAM) pp. 71–73 (Halstead Press/John Wiley, New York, 1977) ISBN 0-470-99040-6
  5. ^ Ward, C.J., 'Selling the "Project of the Century": Perceptions of the Baikal-Amur Mainline Railway (BAM) in the Soviet Press, 1974–1984', Canadian Slavonic Papers (2001), 75–95.
  6. ^ Victor L. Mote, 'BAM after the fanfare: the unbearable ecumene', in: John M. Steward, (ed.), The Soviet environment: problems, policies and politics (Cambridge 1990), 40–54
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ PrimaMedia: Президент России хочет остров Сахалин соединить с материком (Russian)
  10. ^ Construction of the new Kuznetsovsky tunnel, Bamtonnelstroy press service, undated. Retrieved: 31 March 2011].
  11. ^ "Kuznetsovsk tunnel shortens the BAM corridor". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 2 February 2013. 
  12. ^ Freight volumes via BAM to reach 100m tons a year by 2050, Portnews.ru, St Petersburg, 24 March, 2010. Retrieved: 31 March 2011].
  13. ^ "MCN Adventure" August 2011
  14. ^ http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=533442
  15. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 164. ISBN 3-540-00238-3. 

External links[edit]