VERONA, 25 October (BelTA) – A project for building a high-speed railway from St Petersburg to Hamburg via Minsk, Warsaw, and Berlin was presented in Verona, Italy on 25 October during the 12th Eurasian Economic Forum, BelTA has learned. The project was presented by Deputy State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Aleksei Kubrin.
Titled as Magistral [main road], the project is interesting from the point of view of development of entire Eurasia. The new railway is expected to become part of the high-speed Eurasian railway system. Apart from the railway between St Petersburg and Hamburg via Minsk the project provides for building a railway between Moscow and Minsk.
The presentation mentioned that at present it takes about 10 hours to travel from Moscow to Minsk by the existing railway with the average speed of 70kmph. The road from St Petersburg to Minsk takes up to 12 hours with the average speed of 65kmph. If a high-speed railway is built, the time for travelling from St Petersburg and Moscow to Minsk will be reduced to two hours while the St Petersburg-Hamburg travel time will drop to eight hours.
The trains will consist of 8-12 cars travelling at speeds of up to 450kmph. The new railway will use the European track gauge. A ballastless track technology will be used to build the high-speed railway. The railway will also have a fiber optic line and a pneumatic mail system.
St Petersburg and Hamburg have been chosen as end points of the new railway system due to the growing demand for transporting freight and passengers in this direction. The railway will connect two major sea ports since the existing route of freight transportation across the Baltic Sea is fully loaded. There is no alternative to the project, Aleksei Kubrin stressed. Only such a railway can offer the necessary speed and freight traffic. He added that in the future the railway may be extended to Vladivostok.
The project's cost is estimated at about €30 billion. Earlier BelTA quoted State Secretary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia Grigory Rapota as saying there are plans to use private investments to build a high-speed railway between St Petersburg and Minsk and further into Western Europe. The official said: “We suggest a business model, which is totally different from similar projects for building high-speed railways. We suggest accomplishing the project using personal funds and private investments.”
Grigory Rapota remarked that no fundamental decisions concerning the high-speed railway have been made yet. “We need to accumulate a critical mass of people in favor of the project. The idea is under consideration. I am not going to recount everyone I've managed to discuss it with. I am glad that I don't hear even skepticism. The idea meets complete approval. I am even less concerned about the political approval of the idea now. I am more interested in how much the private sector is interested in taking part in the project,” he said.