MPs favor narrower railroads

 Parliament is presently discussing the Government’s draft policy on railway transportation. It proposes three railway routes totaling 5,000 kilometers in length, and will have three sections – Tavantolgoi to Sainshand, Tavantolgoi to China, and Tavantolgoi to Russia. Rail tracks in Mongolia are in the Soviet-style broad gauge, now used in Russia, Finland, and in some countries in the former USSR and the Eastern bloc (some others have changed over to the narrower gauge that is more the international norm). The narrow gauge is used in China. Narrow-gauge tracks are 15 percent lighter than the broad ones, but they have a larger carrying capacity.

Energy Resource Company was to build the first narrow-gauge railway in Mongolia. Work on the 200-km railroad from Ukhaa Khudag mine to Gashuun Sukhait, was to start last autumn, with financial assistance from The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and technical cooperation from Deutsche Bahn.

A new railway is a must if Mongolia is to export large amounts of its natural resources, but a consensus on where to build it and under which specifications is proving elusive. Some MPs give their opinions on the subject.

Ts.Batbayar: 80 percent of our imports come from China. Any businessman will choose the cheapest way to bring his goods. The narrow gauge will be more suited to our needs. It will be 10 times more efficient, economically speaking .

S.Oyun: The narrow gauge is more attractive on economic grounds, but I would say it is better for Mongolia to have both kinds.

D.Gankhuyag: The choice of rail gauge is linked to our possible export markets. As of now we have only one buyer – China – for our minerals, coal, cashmere and everything, New broad-gauge routes to Russia will help open a new market and maybe will get us more competitive prices for our exports.

R.Rash: It will be better to build narrow traaks since Tavantolgoi and other mines are closer to China and we can connect with Japan and Korea.

D.Terbishdagva: 90 percent of international trade uses the narrower tracks. Thus I think it would be better to choose this for Mongolia. There can be some broad tracks depending on the region, but the national policy must be dispassionate.
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