Gazprombank wary of risky Northern Latitudinal Railway project
© RIA Novosti. Igor Ageyenko

Gazprombank wary of risky Northern Latitudinal Railway project

The Northern Latitudinal Railway project (NLR) carries serious construction risks because of global warming. Permafrost in the area where the railway system is to be built could turn out to be "not very permanent," First Vice-President of Gazprombank Alexei Chichkanov told RIA Novosti.

"Construction in permafrost regions involves certain risks, as permafrost can turn out to be not that permanent because of global warming, which is especially dangerous in these regions. The risk is really serious," Chichkanov said when asked whether challenging conditions could increase construction costs.

He said that the paperwork giving construction plans and estimates was not ready yet, and so the possibility of increased costs remained speculation.

The Northern Latitudinal Railway would reduce the length of railway lines from the northern deposits in West Siberia to the ports on the Baltic, White, Barents and Kara seas by as much as 1,000 kilometers. The implementation of the project would also ease congestion on the existing southern route towards the Trans-Siberian Railway.

Early last October, Russia's Transport Ministry announced the signing of a concession agreement to build a railway system called the Northern Latitudinal Railway. It would connect the Severnaya and Sverdlovskaya railway lines and would be used to deliver cargo from deposits in the northern regions of West Siberia. Preliminary plans provided for creating a banking syndicate involving Gazprombank, VTB, the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) and VEB. Sberbank filed a separate request to participate.