The Russian government has approved plans to build a toll motorway to cut cargo shipping times between Europe and China, according to Russian newspaper Vedomosti. The scheme was approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and work is now under way on attracting funding for the scheme, with China being seen as a prime candidate for contributions.
The idea for the Meridian highway was put forward by Alexander Ryazanov, the former deputy chairman of Gazprom, as a 2,000km link between Russia’s border with Kazakhstan to the main Russian road network. The project has an estimated cost of $9.3bn, and would take between 12 and 14 years to construct. Â
Ryazanov said his company, Russian Holding, owned roughly 80% of the land the road would run through.
Sergei Sanakoyev, the head of the Russian-Chinese Analytical Center, told The Moscow Times that there was a sound business case for the scheme. However, he added: "The question is whether or not Ryazanov has enough financial and administrative resources and the right people. I don’t see it now."
In 2016, a similar scheme was proposed by the government’s Federal Centre of Project Financing as a public-private partnership, with the cost put at about $11bn (see Further reading).
Image: Russia’s M11 toll highway (Dreamstime)