Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympic Games will be the first to be held in Russia since the Soviet Union’s controversial 1980 Moscow Olympics.
In a protest against the Soviet war in Afghanistan, 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Games. It is therefore not surprising that Russia is keen to impress this time.
The country’s railways have an important part to play in this. Last month, Vladimir Putin demonstrated Sochi’s new rail infrastructure by hosting a meeting with Olympic officials on a train running along the almost-complete 48 km new rail line, which makes its way from the coast into the mountains.
At this meeting, Putin reported that the line, which still requires signalling and electrification work, was 85 per cent complete.
The line is expected to open to traffic in mid-2013, once commissioning tests are complete.
Running on the line will be a fleet of new Siemens-built Lastochka trains.
The trains 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 Lastochka’s now have their certificate of compliance. They are expected to enter passenger service from Sochi along the Black Sea coast next month.
This line is part of a new £4.4 billion road/rail route which includes six rail tunnels, totalling 10.4 km, 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 11.5 km and 9 km and are built to withstand the region’s earthquakes such that that of 5.5 magnitude experienced by Sochi in December.
In August, the rail engineer reported on the construction of this road/rail corridor, other rail improvements in the region and the new Lastochka trains.