The new Trans-Siberian railroad - billed by the Soviet Union as "the construction project of the century" - is scheduled to open in 1985.
GV The Yakutia region
SV AND LV Open cast coal mining to the south of Yakutia at the Neryungrin pit (4 shots)
SV Coal tipped into lorry (2 shots)
LV AND SV Track laying train at work (3 shots)
LV AND SV Building work in Berkakit settlement (3 shots)
SV PAN FROM Building under construction OVER TO Rolling stock and end of line (siding)
SV PAN and TOP VIEW Children leaving and play outside Berkakit kindergarten (2 shots)
CU AND SV Interior part of a performance by childrens ensemble of the Berkakit cultural centre
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Background: The new Trans-Siberian railroad - billed by the Soviet Union as "the construction project of the century" - is scheduled to open in 1985. The Baikal-Amur railway - BAM for short - will carve across 2,000 miles (3,145 kilometres) of mountainous virgin forests linking Lake Baikal in Central Siberia to Komsomolsk - na - Amure in the Far East. Last December, a 150 mile (220 kilometres) trunkline came into operation, opening up the vast mineral wealth of Yakutia.
SYNOPSIS: The primeval forests of Siberia, amongst some of the world's least hospitable terrain. The Soviet Union is anxious to exploit its vast coal, timber, and mineral deposits. This open-cast mine at Neryungrin, in Yakutia, produced 13 million tons of high-grade coal last year. The copper deposits of the region are reported to exceed those of the United States, Chile and Zambia combined.
This branchline, now completed, is known as "The Little Bam" and is the first railway in Yakutia. The economic development of the region has been hampered by its unusual climate where winter lasts ore than half the year. Temperatures of minus 60 degrees centigrade (minus 76 Fahrenheit) cause welding equipment to seize up, and rails to snap. Construction workers here earn up to four times the national average wage.
The country's largest processing plant is under construction, together with a thermo-electric power plant. Each kilometre of track cost a million roubles (900,000 dollars) per mile and the seismic activity of the area demanded innovatory techniques.
Eight settlements have grown up along the railway. At Berkakit, the largest, buildings are made of earthquake-proof panelling, guaranteed to survive the perma frost. The inherent high cost is seen as an investment in the future of the Soviet Union.
Soviet officials are anxious to allay criticism of the ecological damage which the project could inflict. Experts are advising on the threat to the unique wildlife of the region. Elk, reindeer, beers, wolves and even tigers and panthers still roam the taiga of central and eastern Siberia. The railway project is proudly described as a symbol of Soviet spirit and skill.