Ever heard of the Baikal-Amur Main Line (BAM) in Russia? It’s a broad-gauge railway line that was built by the Soviet Union as a safer and complementary alternative to the Trans-Siberian Railway. As one of the largest railway lines in the world, BAM is almost 2,700 miles long, and its construction spanned several decades primarily because of Siberia’s rugged terrain.
According to Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union at the time, BAM was “the construction project of the century.” Sadly, recent events have washed away part of the Baikal-Amur Main Line (BAM) and threatened to further shake the already vulnerable Russian economy.
“In #Buryatia, due to overflowing the banks of the Kholodnaya River, the movement of trains along the Baikal-Amur Mainline was suspended. A state of emergency has been introduced in the region,” a report from NEXTA TV, an independent Belarusian outlet, reads. “The flood destroyed the dam. Due to its breakthrough, the movement of trains on the BAM was stopped, 200 meters of the railway track were washed away and 10 poles of the contact network were damaged.”
Russia’s economy has significantly suffered a downturn since the West imposed sanctions on Moscow over its Ukrainian invasion. Now, the collapse of the dam and a crucial transit railway will further stretch the economy thin. According to Alexey Tsydenov, a regional governor, “The damage to the country’s economy from idle cargo will amount to billions of rubles, plus the cost of restoring the railroad.”
Several video footage of the incident has gone viral on social media. In one of the videos, water can be seen flowing fast through one of the bridge’s damaged sections. In another video, water overflowed a destroyed section of the railway and covered the tracks.
Although some media outlets are reporting that the dam burst on the night of August 19, we can’t determine what dam broke or when it did, as Tsydenov gave no information to that effect. The time or location of the video footage showing when water covered the railway has also not been verified.
However, Tsydenov, in an updated post, said that a state of emergency has been declared across Buryatia even though the destruction of the dam did not pose a threat to residents in the area. He also said that the travel routes will soon be restored as the water levels recede.
In yet another post, he mentioned that Russian Railways is working hard to ensure that the damaged BAM railway track section on the Kholodnaya River resumes functioning as soon as possible. Russian Railways is a fully state-owned railway company that manages railway infrastructure in the country.
Sadly, this isn’t the first flooding incident Russia has experienced in August. Earlier in the month, heavy rain across the country’s far eastern areas saw rivers in the Primorsky Region overflowing their banks. Tass, Russia’s state news agency, reported that Spassk-Dalny Town and Ussuriysk City were among the worst hit. The news agency described the floods that hit the city of Ussuriysk as “extensive” and “destructive.”