The construction of a unique transarctic underwater fiber-optic communication mainline from Murmansk to Vladivostok is to start end of May – early June this year, RF Deputy Transport Minister Alexander Poshivay has announced. The project branded Polar Express is expected to become a key driver in the digitalization of the Russian Arctic zone.
The Polar Express mainline infrastructure is to be fully built by 2026, with the first fiber-optic parts at the west end of the line to be put into operation in 2022 and 2024, and most of the eat-end parts to be completed by 2026.
The high-tech underwater Polar Express communication line will consist of six pairs of optic fiber with a 100 T-bit/sec capacity. Further capacity expansion will be possible by means of developing land-based equipment and implementing state of the art fiber-optic solutions.
For the time being, a shore-based station has been built in a settlement of Teriberka in Murmansk region, and shore-based stations in Amderma (Nenets Autonomous Region) and Dikson (Krasnoyarsk Kray) are being designed.
The 12.6 km long mainline will connect Europe and Asia by the shortest possible route. Nine vessel including two cable laying ones will be deployed to build the mainline. The underwater fiber-optic cable will be laid into a 1.5 meter deep trench in the sea bottom and insulated with a protective shell where making a trench is impossible.
According to Alexander Smirnov, MD of Rosmorport, Russia’s 18 Arctic ports handled 996 mn tons, while those in the Russian Far East handled 223 mn tons in 2020. By 2030, the port handled volume is expected to by 44 mn tons per annum in the Russian Arctic and by more than 100 mn tons in the Russian Far East. ‘To provide for this freight traffic, we need a reliable communication channel, which satellites cannot guarantee,’ he said.