The Crimean bridge has been obscured – Newspaper Kommersant No. 188 (7389) dated 10/11/2022

Work to restore traffic on the Crimean bridge continues. Trains run on the same track in the usual schedule, the movement of cars in both directions is organized along the undamaged auto lane. Freight traffic is promised to be restored from October 16, but for now the trucks arrive in Crimea by ferry: two of them have been put on the line, two more should arrive soon, after which it will be possible to transport 160-180 trucks per day. In parallel, the authorities are developing an alternative overland route to the peninsula with a length of 360 km through new territories. However, carriers doubt that it will be popular.

Head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov informedthat the launch of freight traffic on the Crimean bridge is scheduled for October 16. The reverse movement of cars in one lane with an interval of 40 minutes in each direction was established on October 8, a day later – and movement in both directions. They repaired the barriers, lighting on the bridge, restored the markings. According to the head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, after the incident and by the morning of October 10, 6851 cars had crossed the bridge.

Cargo and bus transportation is established through the ferry crossing. According to Mr. Aksenov, there are about 800 trucks in line for the ferry from the Crimean side, data administration of the Krasnodar Territory, about 700 more trucks are waiting on the other side. Now there are two car-passenger ferries – “Kerchinsky-2” (15 cars) and “Lavrentiy” (20 road trains), by the morning of October 10 they transported 407 trucks and 1756 passengers. The ferry runs around the clock, which was facilitated by calm over the weekend, but at the beginning of the week, meteorologists expect the northwest wind to increase to 13–16 m/s.

Two additional car ferries are scheduled to arrive on 10 and 15 October. Also, since October 8, three passenger ferries with a capacity of 100, 200 and 250 people have been operating, they have carried 2882 passengers. According to Sergei Aksenov, by October 11, the total capacity of ferries will be up to 140-160 trucks per day.

Logistics companies note difficulties with the delivery of goods to the Crimea. So, Ozon temporarily limited the ability for residents of the region to place orders, Russian Post warned of possible delays in the delivery of items.

An industry source says that as of Monday morning, commercial cargo was not being accepted on the ferry, with EMERCOM and humanitarian cargo going ahead.

Due to the congestion of vehicles at the crossing, regional authorities asked the owners of trucks and passenger buses to postpone trips to Crimea if possible. But the general director of the Dolphin tour operator, Sergei Romashkin, notes that this did not noticeably affect the tourism industry: tour operators curtailed bus programs back in September, citizens travel to the peninsula by train and private cars. Bookings of tours to Crimea on October 10, according to Mr. Romashkin, were 30–40% lower than a week ago: “This is due both to the seasonal factor and to the fact that some tourists took a break.” The main wave of refusals, he says, took place over the weekend, with 10% of the races scheduled for October canceled.

Passenger and freight trains went over the bridge on October 8, so far on the same track. Suburban communication has also been restored. Trains run on the damaged section at a speed of 40 km/h.

In addition, three rail ferries are due to arrive on October 12 and 15. “For two ferries arriving on October 15, insufficient depths in the port of Kerch are a limitation,” Vitaly Savelyev explained. “A dredger from Rosmorport was mobilized to carry out dredging from Gelendzhik, the estimated completion time is October 14.” But, the minister noted, the work of railway ferries “is not critical, since one line of the railway covers the needs for all transportation.” They will be kept in reserve.

Work on the analysis of the severity of damage continues, Marat Khusnullin explained at a meeting of Mikhail Mishustin with deputy prime ministers on October 10. Divers are working to check the bridge piers. As a result of the diagnostics, the need to eliminate damage to the expansion joint on one of the supports was revealed.

It is tentatively planned to repair these damages by the end of the week. Now the equipment is being brought in, including floating cranes, by the end of the week deliveries of metal structures from Tyumen, Kurgan and Voronezh will begin. There is also an inspection of the railway track.

According to Marat Khusnullin’s preliminary estimates, two spans will have to be replaced. A schedule for the dismantling of the damaged structure is being developed: as the Deputy Prime Minister said, it will be ready within three days.

Vitaly Savelyev is waiting for a conclusion from Russian Railways on the inspection and on the state of the faulty track on October 13.

The head of the Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, promises that all work on the restoration of the bridge will be completed within 1-1.5 months. Russian Railways, Crimean Railways (the owner of the railway infrastructure of the bridge), the Ministry of Transport and the secretariat of Marat Khusnullin did not give any additional comments.

In parallel, the authorities are developing an alternative route to Crimea through new territories with a length of 359 km. On 180 km of them, according to the Deputy Prime Minister, restoration work is underway, although “even today we can drive along these roads quite calmly.” However, Kommersant’s interlocutors in the industry doubt that this route “due to objective circumstances” will be in demand by carriers. According to one of Kommersant’s sources, “rather than risking cargo in new territories, it’s easier to wait for the bridge to be repaired, but for now use the ferries.”

Natalia Skorlygina, Alexandra Mertsalova

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