Mongolia to move forward on railway infrastructure

Minister M.Zorigt and Head of MRA Ch.Surenkhorloo at agreement signing ceremony

The Ministry of Roads and Transportation and Mongolian Railway Association (MRA) signed an agreement on Wednesday on cooperation for moving forward on developing the nation’s railway infrastructure.

On April 28, Exim Bank of India approved a one billion USD credit line for developing Mongolia’s infrastructure. Medee. mn spoke with Minister of Roads and Transportation M.Zorigt and Head of the MRA Ch.Surenkhorloo about the agreement to move forward in development with Indian financing now available.

In the interview, Minister Zorigt said that the ministry is planning to start the construction of a 267 km rail line connecting Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuunsukhait as the first project to carry out under the cooperation agreement. He underlined that Mongolia started freight trans
portation along a new railway development connecting Tumurtei to Khandgait, which was built by Mongolians. The Minister said that the blueprints, feasibility study, base structure, lighting, and station were all completed by Mongolians. “This is a big achievement. We have been discussing and debating the Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuunsukhait line for many years. Previously, it was believed that without foreign investors we couldn’t build railway, but now we’ve shown that Mongolians can do it on our own. We do have personnel. We’ve been saying that Mongolia is a country with an agriculture based economy, and can develop based on the mining industry. But by building railway, we’ve laid a foundation for heavy industry,” the Minister said.

Minister Zorigt underlined that the work force for railway development will consist only of Mongolians. He said, “We met with railway companies and their staff. I asked them if they can really build the Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuunsukhait railway. They said there won’t be any problems, and if the development work is carried out with proper management, it can be built within six months. They have built 35 km of railway in a year. It’s time for Mongolians to start building railway. We need railway to transport coal. It will save on expenses, and is two to three times less expensive than truck transportation. I can confidently say that we will soon start railway development.”

Zorigt said that another crucial element of development in Mongolia’s railway infrastructure is the issue of transit transportation between Russia and Mongolia. The Minister said that in the last few months the ministry has been focused on this issue, and delegates from the ministry are currently working on the issue in Russia.

Head of the MRA Ch.Surenkhorloo said that once investment is fully resolved, railway construction work can start immediately. “Through the one billion USD credit line from Exim Bank of India, we will conduct the preliminary work,” he said.

Ch.Surenkhorloo added that a bid will be announced for suppliers and producers, and they will give priority to domestic companies. He said, “We don’t want to be dependent on foreign companies. In the previous work carried out for railway infrastructure, a total of 36 domestic companies took part. If we cooperate on the Tavan Tolgoi to Gashuunsukhait railway with domestic companies it would mean that this development would be based 100 percent on Mongolian contributions.”

“There are around 360 engineers at Mongolian Railway, and over 100 engineers in the private sector. There are five basic professions in the railway industry. We have over 500 professional engineers. If we manage everything wisely, we will be able to complete the railway within six months,” Surenkhorloo noted.