Flooding damages Russian Baikal-Amur railway line
The Kholodnaya River overflowed its banks last Saturday after heavy rainfall, washing away and damaging part of the Baikal-Amur railway line in Russia and making rail traffic impossible.
On Sunday, August 20, Alexey Tsydenov, Head of the Republic of Buryatia in Eastern Russia, shared on Telegram that there are “Great consequences from the dam break and overflow of the Kholodnaya River in the Severo-Baikal region”, saying that part of the Baikal-Amur railway line is washed out and train traffic has been stopped. According to the Russian official, there is no threat to residents by the overflowing river. Local medium the Baikal-Daily reported that the river level rose to 246 centimeters.
As of Sunday, a railway track length of 200 meters and 10 contact network supports are damaged, according to Tsydenov. Work to restore the road to a quarry, and restore and minimise the dam failure is said to be ongoing. A team of 120 people and 24 units of equipment are involved. The tentative date given of completion of emergency recovery works is August 26, meaning the line will be closed this week, at the least.
“Billions of rubles” lost by blocked cargo transport
Tsydenov took part in a meeting of the Russian Railways operational staff to eliminate the consequences of the emergency on the Nizhneangarsk – Kholodnaya section of the East Siberian Railway, which the Baikal Amur line is part of. According to the head of the region, the damage to the Russian economy from fewer cargo transports will amount to “billions of rubles”.
While reparations are ongoing, no traffic on line there is possible. The Baikal-Amur railway line connects Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East and is 4,324 kilometres long in total. Running parallel to the Trans-Siberian railway but more to the north, one of its objectives when it was built was to help divert heavy freight traffic from the other existing rail lines.
A video was shared by the official Telegram channel of the Government of Buryatia, captioned with that works works to construct a road to the dam was paved and dam filling works have started, as seen below. A drone video posted by Tsydenov shows the washed-away railway tracks.