Lukashenko opens new electrified railway section in Svetlogorsk.

Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko opened the new electrified section Svetlogorsk-Zhlobin-Minsk of the railway system to traffic while in Svetlogorsk on 21 June. The head of state also took a train to appreciate the level of comfort, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he has fond recollections of the railroad since he was a kid. “Because I went to school along a railway track back in the day. It was a blessing, a life artery. When I see you, I see something dear to me. And also because you helped me out more than 20 years ago when the Minsk metro went on strike, complaining about low salaries, so that 60 railway engine drivers kept the metro system working. Back then you saved me. I am deeply grateful to you. This is why I am talking to you as if you were my family,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told workers and veterans of the state enterprise Belarusian Railways.

Білоруська залізниця завершила електрифікацію ділянки Жлобин-Подільський-Світлогорськ-на-Березині

The president was informed about the performance of Belarusian Railways and prospects of its development. The volume of transit passenger and freight traffic decreased in the last few months primarily due to economic downturn abroad as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless, previously taken measures to establish new routes – connections between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, work with Ukrainian and Baltic companies and freight forwarders – produce results. There are good prospects of an increase in transportation. The decision made several years ago in favor of developing container transportation between China and Europe turned out to be the right now. This traffic steadily rises.

There are no problems with domestic transportation this year – an increase of nearly 5% has been registered. The economy works, the demand gets satisfied.

The head of state was informed about plans concerning further investments in the development of Belarusian Railways, including the renewal of the rolling stock and the development of infrastructure.

As for electrification, the section Zhlobin-Kalinkovichi-Barbarov is being worked on now. The project is supposed to be fully finished in Q4 2020. Feasibility studies are in progress to electrify the section Baranovichi-Luninets-Mikashevichi-Sitnitsa-Kalinkovichi in the next five-year plan. The section is nearly 300km long and is important for the development of enterprises in the regions. Besides, it will be necessary to modernize the sections Minsk-Molodechno and Minsk-Osipovichi within the next five years. These two sections were electrified back in the USSR times.

It was noted that the development of further railway electrification plans will depend on electricity rates among other things. Electrification reduces the environmental footprint and increases the consumption of electricity, which is important considering the launch of the Belarusian nuclear power plant. Aleksandr Lukashenko agreed: “Yes, it is important for us. We should certainly greenlight these projects so that the developers would see how things will be.”

The president was informed about progress in fulfilling the instruction to organize fast railway service between Minsk and the Minsk National Airport. A feasibility study has already been developed. Aleksandr Lukashenko set the necessary tasks.

The development of a chain of modern self-service kiosks to sell train tickets was also mentioned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked to residents of Svetlogorsk, who had gathered near the railway station when they learned that the president was coming. He informed them about the launch of electric trains, talked about the epidemic situation, and urged them to pay more attention to sports and healthy life style. The people made a number of personal requests, asked the head of state to expedite the construction and reconstruction of local facilities. The president heard out everyone and gave specific instructions to address the problems that had been raised.

During the trip on the train the discussion touched upon the production and deliveries of rolling stock, including for regional economy-class lines. Prospects of development of the regional railway network taking into account economic and social needs were discussed. Support for pensioners through discounts on tickets during specific seasons was mentioned. The head of state agreed that this population category should be supported.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered about prospects of resumption of normal railway service in the region as neighboring countries lift the pandemic-related restrictions.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to beautification and cleanup of territories along the railways. He stressed that Belarus had always received positive feedback from foreign guests in this regard. “The railway track shoulders and adjacent areas contribute to the image of the country. We have always kept things in order. I want it to stay like that,” the president said.

Once again the head of state underlined the importance of development of rural areas and how important it is for people to hang on to their own piece of land.

The first electrified section Minsk-Olekhnovichi of the Belarusian railway system was opened to traffic in 1963. The railway sections Brest-Minsk-Orsha-the Russian border and Molodechno-Minsk-Osipovichi were electrified in 1963-1983. The length of electrified sections of the Belarusian railway system was close to 900km or 16% of the total length of the railways in Belarus.

Other parts of the Belarusian railway system were electrified as part of the government program on railway transport development in 2011-2015 and the government program on the transport system development in 2016-2020. The 193km-long section Gomel-Zhlobin-Osipovichi and the 84km-long section Molodechno-Gudogai-the state border were electrified then.

An investment project has been in progress since May 2018 to electrify the 141km-long section Zhlobin-Kalinkovichi-Barbarov. Work to electrify the railway section Zhlobin-Podolsky-Svetlogorsk-on-Berezina has been completed.

Once the section Zhlobin-Kalinkovichi-Barbarov is electrified, the length of electrified sections will be close to 24.9% of the total length of the Belarusian railway system.