Close in a half-ring: when city trains will be launched in St. Petersburg

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The volume of freight traffic from Russia to Finland via St. Petersburg by the end of the year will grow by 6% compared to the previous one – up to 16 million tons. This was discussed at a meeting between Russian Railways and the Finnish VR-Group Ltd. In general, freight traffic through the northern capital is gradually increasing, but the capacity of the railways is at risk of being exhausted soon. In addition, many cargoes pass through the historic center, including coal. In St. Petersburg, a concept was developed that would allow these trains to be taken out of the city, and instead of them to start up city trains, as in Moscow. How it will look and what has already begun to be done – in the material of “Izvestia”.

Freight traffic

The transport infrastructure of St. Petersburg has long been in need of modernization. The tourist flow to the northern capital is increasing from year to year, but the number of freight traffic that goes through the city center is also increasing. This creates an inconvenience for Petersburgers and guests.

– We, together with the governments of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region, have formed a Comprehensive Program for the Development of the St. Petersburg Railway Junction and adjacent territories. This program, taking into account the activities of the concept, provides for the development of the adjacent road infrastructure, the construction of transport hubs and road overpasses at the intersection with the railway, – said Oleg Toni, Deputy Director of Russian Railways.

Now “Russian Railways” operates in St. Petersburg in the mode of combined freight and passenger traffic. 60% of the transit cargo passes through the city – these are noisy trains that transport not only “clean” containers, but also “dirty” coal.

The node is overloaded. Freight flows, which have already formed, have chosen a significant part of the carrying capacity of many trunk lines passing both through St. Petersburg and in the immediate vicinity of it. This creates significant problems for all other road users: both for road transport, because we have many single-level crossings, and for passengers. For the railway, the transportation of goods is by default a priority, so the current situation, naturally, hinders the development of passenger traffic, – Vladimir Valdin, director of solutions in the field of public transport at Simetra, told Izvestia.

The first task under the Concept for the Development of Railway Infrastructure at the St. Petersburg Railway Junction (SPZhU) is to move the transit of goods outside the city and separate freight and passenger trains. The creators of the document approached the issue in a comprehensive manner: senders of raw materials and goods should not suffer from the modernization of urban transport. It is necessary to find a balanced solution that will suit both carriers and passengers.

Russian ports on the Baltic Sea are today leaders in development among all ports in the region. Several large transit corridors, including the “North-South”, pass through the Big Port of St. Petersburg. Now the delivery of goods is complicated by the fact that the capacity of the railway junction is almost exhausted, and traffic continues to grow. The flow of containerized cargo is also increasing: it is assumed that by 2025 it will grow by 8-10%.

The concept takes these forecasts into account. Within the framework of the document, the north-east and south-west railway bypasses will be built, and the Northern Semicircle will be re-profiled for passenger trains. This will simplify and increase the transit of goods, and save time for carriers.

As long as freight trains pass through the center, it is practically impossible to develop a network of urban electric trains, therefore, a new type of passenger transport in St. Petersburg will be created only at the second stage of development of the hub.

Passenger traffic

The success of the Moscow Central Circle (MCC) and Moscow Central Diameters (MCD) prompted Petersburg to think about transferring this experience to the northern capital. The next step in the development of UZHU is the creation of a network of urban electric trains with the same approach as in Moscow: clock traffic, new platforms, convenient metro transfers and comfortable modern cars.

This will breathe new life into not only the railways, but also the entire transport infrastructure of the city. Now the street and road network of St. Petersburg still has bottlenecks in the conditions of dense urban development: it is impossible to expand them in the historical center included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, so it is not yet possible to completely relieve the roads.

The concept presupposes the maximum reconstruction of the existing railway infrastructure of St. Petersburg – this will preserve its historical appearance. Trains will connect the center with the suburbs, distribute the flow of passengers and reduce the load on road transport and the metro. Transport hubs will appear near the stations, and automobile overpasses will be built at the intersection of roads with tracks.

At the first stage, it is planned to increase the flow towards large settlements of the Leningrad Region – Vyborg, Vsevolozhsk, Krasnoe Selo, Tosno and Pavlovsk. On the route St. Petersburg – Baltiysky – Shosseinaya – Pulkovo Airport, traffic with different types of transport is organized. In addition, trains will be launched from the city to Levashovo via Sertolovo.

“We have taken into account the prospects for urban development of the territories, including the need to ensure transport links with the satellite city of Yuzhny, the Expoforum convention and exhibition center, the Lakhta Center public and business complex, as well as large resort and residential areas. As a result, the optimal routes were selected, which will be in demand among the residents of the city and the region, – said Oleg Toni.

There are plans for the development of two semi-rings (the Gulf of Finland interferes with closing the paths into a ring): one from Beloostrov to Oranienbaum, the second from Gatchina to Toksovo. The intervals of train movement in the future will be from 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the flow of passengers.

– The launch of two high-frequency messages can greatly change the situation in the city and the region. This will naturally require measures to increase the throughput of railway sections so that a larger number of electric trains can be passed in a clock mode, removing freight trains somewhere, which now actually pass through the territory of St. Petersburg, – said Vladimir Valdin.

The third project in the concept of development of the SPZhU is the high-speed highway Moscow – St. Petersburg. The station for it will probably be located in the area of ​​the Moscow railway station, but this decision has not yet been agreed upon. Both high-speed container trains and passenger trains will be allowed along this road.

According to the head of the HSE transport program Alexander Syromyatnikov, the demand for high-speed train will be much higher due to the shorter travel time.

– How much will it be in demand? The occupancy rate of the train is calculated by year – not at rush hour, but by year. It is clear that on Friday evening, how many “Sapsans” do not start up, they will all be busy plus or minus. You need to look at the percentage of occupancy on the basis that 100% – all places are occupied, 0% – no one. The workload of Sapsans is now large for a very simple reason: the less travel time, the more demand will be. This is called induced demand. All transport works like that, ”he explained to Izvestia.

Current work

The development plan for the SPZhU is calculated until 2025 and 2030 The work has already begun. For example, pre-design studies of the route of the north-eastern railway bypass have been completed. The length of the double-track line will be 85 kilometers, about 109 billion rubles will be spent on its construction.

In addition, the design of a transport interchange hub in Sertolovo, Leningrad Region, began. The location has already been chosen: the intersection of one of the city streets with the existing tracks. The node will include a small bus station, a platform and intercept parking lots. How much the work will cost is not yet specified, as well as the timing.

The builders of the Novaya Lakhta railway platform in the Primorsky District of St. Petersburg received a positive opinion from Glavgosexpertiza. A high passenger platform will be erected on the Novaya Derevnya-Lakhta section to the right of the track. A tunnel will connect it with the public and business complex “Lakhta Center”.

– Of course, launching a city train is an expensive undertaking, but much cheaper than a metro with the same coverage, and most importantly faster. If the construction of metro lines of the same length can take 30-40 years, then here we have the opportunity to get the same thing in a decade. The speed of movement around the city will change dramatically, plus the service covers directions that are now not covered by any transit transport at all. In the future, the city will be able to focus on the construction of the metro in those places where it really cannot do without it. And this is very correct, very strategic, – concluded Vladimir Valdin.

Funds for the development of the UCLS will begin to be allocated as early as next year: the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg has made a corresponding amendment to the draft budget for 2021-2023. 55.7 million rubles will be spent on design solutions in 2021, and 100 million in 2022. In general, the concept will be implemented with funds from the city and federal budgets, as well as from Russian Railways. In total, it will cost about 584.7 billion rubles.

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