General City Information


Baikal-Amur Mainline in green. Click picture to enlarge

The Baikal-Amur Mainline is a railway line in Saberia (Russia). Traversing Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East, the 4,234 km (2,305 mile) long BAM runs about 610 to 770 km (380 to 480 miles) north of and parallel to the Trans-Siberian railway.

The route of the present-day BAM was first considered in the 1880s as an option for the eastern section of the Trans-Siberian railway.

The section from Tayshet to Bratsk was built in the 1930s. Most of the Far Eastern section was built during the years of 1944—1946, mainly by gulag prisoners, including German and Japanese prisoners of war, of whom possibly as many as 150,000 died. In 1953, following Stalin’s death, virtually all construction work on the BAM stopped and the line was abandoned to the elements for more than twenty years. However, interest in the project never waned in part because of strained relations with China—a Chinese attack on the border-tracing Trans-Siberian railway would have cut off transportation to the Russian far east.

In March 1974, Soviet General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev stated that a new BAM project would become a huge Komsomol undertaking. Brezhnev famously stated that “BAM will be constructed with clean hands only!” and firmly rejected the suggestion to use prison labor again. The Soviet Union described BAM as “the construction project of the century.”

At least 60 boomtowns developed around the route, but nowadays a lot of these places are deserted and unemployment in the area is high.

BAM was again declared complete in 1991.

A recent major improvement was the opening of the 15.343 km (9.534 mile) Severomuisk Tunnel on December 5, 2003. It is up to 1.5 km (nearly 1 mile) deep. Construction took twenty-seven years to complete. Prior to this, the corresponding route segment was 54 km (34 miles) long, with heavy slopes necessitating the use of auxiliary locomotives.

The railway now attracts thousands of Western railway enthusiasts each year.

The BAM departs from the Trans-Siberian railway at Tayshet, then crosses the Angara River at Bratsk, crosses the Lena river, proceeds past Severobaikalsk at the northern tip of Lake Baikal, past Tynda and Khani, crosses the Amur River at Komsomolsk-na-Amure and finally reaches the Pacific Ocean at Sovetskaya Gavan. Of the whole route, the Tayshet-Taksimo sector of 1,469 km (913 miles) is electrified. There are 21 tunnels along the line, with a total length of 47 km (29 miles). There are also more than 4,200 bridges, with a total length of over 400 km (about 260 miles).

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