SYNOPSIS: This railroad is the key to Russia's nextly discovered mineral wealth. Soviet engineers say?
SYNOPSIS: This railroad is the key to Russia's nextly discovered mineral wealth. Soviet engineers say it is also the most difficult railroad construction job in history.
The Baikal - Amur Mainline--BAN for short will stretch 1800 miles from Luke Baikal in the west to the Amur river on the Pacific coast, opening of vast deposits of copper, coal, iron and gold.
The railroad is a construction engineer nightmare. Such of it will run through roadless wilderness. There are dozens of valleys and mountains and streams to be crossed. And part of the ??? runs over permafrost--permanently frozen around that presents ??? own construction problems. The area is so wild that helicopters are the only way to supply men and materials to some construction crows.
The road is being built with western help. West German dump trucks are already on the job, and American excavators are on order.
Work on the road has to stop when temperatures reach minus 30. That happened only twice this past winter. Otherwise, construction continues, despite the cold. Sometimes, the cold can be used to advantage. Supply trucks can use frozen rivers as roads to deliver materials.
One hundred forty two major bridges have to be built, including this one over the Lona River.
Because of the cold, concrete for the bridge pilings has to poured, and stones set, inside wooden built around the pilings.
BAN was actually born in the 30's, and abandoned at the start of World War Two. These are rumours that much of the work that was done by political prisoners. Now, its being ??? ??? ???...members of the ??? ??? ???, who volunteer for ???. Most of them are enthusiastic ??? skill, so ??? schools have been so up to turn the volunteers into everything from stone masons to bulldozer drivers.
Work on the line is supposed to be completed in seven years, but the workers say they'll do it in six. The line is essential soviet union is to begin exploiting the mineral resources of the area.
Western military experts believe there's ??? reason for the new line. ??? miles farther north than the Trans-Siberian which ??? the Chinese border. In the ??? with China, Russia could use the new line to rush men to the Siberian front.
John Daney, NBC News, on the Baikal-Amur railway in eastern Siberia.