Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games are the first to be held in Russia since the Soviet Union’s controversial 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Russia is keen to impress and its railways have an important part to play. Vladimir Putin was keen to demonstrate Sochi’s new rail infrastructure by hosting a meeting with Olympic officials on a train running along the almost complete 48km new rail line from the coast into the mountains. Mr Putin reported that the line was 85% complete.
It still requires signalling and electrification work. After this and commissioning tests are completed, the line is expected to open to traffic in mid 2013.
Running on the line will be a fleet of new Siemens built Lastochka trains which will be serviced in a new £120 million depot at Alder which also opened last month.
The depot opening coincided with Russian Railways Annual General Meeting at which its President, Vladimir Yakunin, announced that the Lastochkas now have their certificate of compliance. They are shortly expected to enter passenger service from Sochi along the Black Sea coast.
This line is part of a new £4.4 billion road/rail route which includes six rail tunnels totalling 10.4km and three road tunnels totalling 7.7 km with road and tunnels sharing common service tunnels. Its 23 rail bridges and 23 road bridges respectively total 11.5km and 9 km and are built to withstand the region’s earthquakes. It survived one of 5.5 magnitude experienced by Sochi in December.