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First train crosses new bridge to western side of Kola Bay

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - December 19, 2023

It is a historic moment for Murmansk, regional governor Andrei Chibis underlined as Vladimir Putin declared the new infrastructure object for opened

The new bridge across the Tuloma River is key part of the Murmansk Transport Hub (Screenshot from video by Andrei Chibis)

The more than 1,300 meter long bridge is key component of the new railway line to Lavna, the seaport terminal on the western shore of the Kola Bay.

On 15 December, the bridge was officially launched by Vladimir Putin during the Russian national Railway Congress. In a speech, he highlighted the importance of the new railway, saying it would become key element in a new “Arctic hub” that ultimately will be connected with the Persian Gulf.

“Along the whole distance from Murmansk to the Iranian Bander-Abbas will, according to our specialists, be a seamless railway line based on the 1520 wide track standard [and] goods deliveries from Murmansk to Mumbai will take about 15 days, which is four times less than the traditional routes,” he said.

As the president was speaking, a video showed a several-hundred-meter-long train moving across the Tuloma River.

Ultimately, the train will be able to move all the way to Lavna, where a major new logistical hub is under development.

The railway line will be 46km long. It is built by Yamaltransstroy, the company that earlier built several major railway projects, among them the far northern line to Bovanenkovo in the Yamal Peninsula.

The railway line is part of the Murmansk Transport Hub, a major infrastructure project that has been promoted in Murmansk for more than ten years.

The bridge across the Tuloma River is more than 1,300 meters long (Screenshot from video by Andrei Chibis)

The project appeared to have come to halt in 2020, but was given new life following Russia’s full-scale onslaught on Ukraine in 2022.

In a meeting with federal authorities in July 2022, Putin underlined that the construction works must be given priority.

Everything necessary must be done to complete the Murmansk Transport Hub project as soon as possible, Putin instructed the government.

Also present at the meeting was the secretary of the security council, Nikolai Patrushev, who told Putin that the Baltic Sea “turns into an inland sea for NATO” as Finland and Sweden join NATO.

Patrushev argued that the importance of Murmansk now will be just as it was “in the years of the Great Patriotic War” (the Second World War, ed).

Located in Kirkenes, Norway, just a few kilometres from the borders to Russia and Finland, the Barents Observer is dedicated to cross-border journalism in Scandinavia, Russia and the wider Arctic.

As a non-profit stock company that is fully owned by its reporters, its editorial decisions are free of regional, national or private-sector influence. It has been a partner to ABJ and its predecessors since 2016.