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Transport system of the Murmansk region

Gateway to the Arctic
Port infrastructure
Development of the Murmansk transport hub
Northern sea route
Passenger transport infrastructure

Gateway to the Arctic

The Murmansk Region has a special strategus status for Russia. Murmansk region has a special strategic status for Russia. Geographical location defined the Kola Peninsula as a priority element in ensuring the geopolitical interests of Russia in the north of Europe and the Arctic. Its non-freezing deep-water the Kola Bay became the main base of the Northern Navy, and Murmansk sea port became the center of industrial fishing in the Barents Sea and the North Atlantic, and the starting point of the Arctic.

Today, Murmansk is the only port in European Russia with an open access to major oceanic routes. Port of Murmansk has direct access to the Northern Sea Route, that links the Atlantic to the Pacific through the arctic waters and provides access to natural resources of the Far North, Siberia and the Far East.  

The Murmansk Region located at the junction of transnational routes and having reliable sea, railway, road and air links with industrial Russian regions can surely be called a northern gateway of Russia.

Port infrastructure

There are three seaports in the Murmansk Region.

The main port of the Region is the Murmansk Port located in the Kola Bay. It is also the core port of the Arctic Basin as far as transporting goods to the Far North and far abroad is concerned.

The necessary infrastructure for receiving, servicing and repairing vessels is in place in the Murmansk port. It is a base for Russian shipping companies, the emergency and rescue fleet and the unique fleet of nuclear icebreakers which arrange piloting ships along the routes of the Northern Sea Route.

The Murmansk seaport is one of the ten biggest Russian ports in the amount of cargo transhipment. It is the only port in the country capable of receiving vessels of up to 300 thousand tonnes deadweight any time of the year due to non-freezing deep water area of the Kola inlet.

Cargoes going through the Murmansk port include general cargoes, liquid cargoes as well as containers, fish and fish products. The total cargo turnover is above 25 m tonnes a year (annual average of 5 years).

Coal prevails in the overall amount of transhipped goods. The coal is handled in terminals of JSC "Murmansk Commercial Seaport", the biggest stevedore company of the Murmansk Region. The company also successfully handles apatite and iron-ore concentrates, non-ferrous metals, manganese ore, containers and other cargoes.

Two ports – Kandalaksha and Vitino – are located in the southern part of the Kola Peninsula in the water area of the Kandalaksha Bay. The Kandalaksha port specialises in transhipment of bulk and general cargoes, and the Vitino port is orientated at transhipment of oil products. The total cargo turnover of the Kandalaksha Bay ports is over 4.5 m tonnes.

Development of the Murmansk transport hub

The project of “Complex Development of the Murmansk Transport Hub” is the main transport infrastructure development project in the region.

The project is being implemented within the sub-programme “Development of Transport Services Export” of the federal targeted programme “Development of The Russian Transport System (2010–2020)” with the aim of increasing competitiveness and further development of the regional transport infrastructure.

In the project implementation, a year-round marine hub will be created for processing container liquid cargoes and transhipment of coal and mineral fertilisers. It will be integrated into the North–South international transport corridor.

The project provides for development of the Kola inlet water area, the sea, rail and road transport infrastructure development as well as logistics and warehouse infrastructure development.

In the framework of the new project, it is planned to build a new branch line and a cargo terminal on the westernshore of the Kola Bay, reconstruct the existing coal terminal and build a container terminal, a logistics centre and a distribution zone on the eastern shore of the Kola Bay.

The project is being implemented in a private-public partnership, the total funding being over RUB 150 bn. The state funds the construction of an auxiliary utility infrastructure for investment projects to be implemented by private investors. The project, when implemented, will increase the Murmansk port cargo turnover to 70 m tonnes.

Northern sea route

The Northern Sea Route underlies the Arctic transport system of Russia. It ensures economic integration of the Arctic territories both with developed areas of Russia and with other countries, gives access to major petroleum deposits and aquatic bioresources of the Arctic zone and to other strategic raw materials.

The presence of a powerful nuclear icebreakers fleet predetermines the use of the Northern Sea Route for transnational transit between the countries of North-West Europe and the Pacific areas (Japan, China, the USA and Canada) and its integration into the global transport system as an independent Eurasian transport corridor with year-round transport of export cargoes.

FSUE "Atomflot" where an integrated icebreaker technology complex for the Russian federation civil nuclear fleet is based provides icebreaker pilotage for vessels along the Northern Sea Route, for exploration, scientific and research activities in the arctic seas and for emergency and rescue operations in the ice.

JSC "Murmansk Shipping Company" has a unique experience of shipping in northern latitudes. It is the biggest shipping company taking up the main share of cargo shipping under the Russian flag in the Russian arctic sector.

Another major company located in the Murmansk region – MMC Norilsk Nickel – has successfully implemented a project for building a series of reinforced ice-class vessels for transporting cargoes along the Northern Sea Route without icebreaker pilotage which contributed to efficient handling of cargoes of Norilsk Nickel. It has its own fleet to ensure year-round regular transport connection between the seaports of Dudinka, Murmansk, Archangelsk, Rotterdam and Hamburg.

Passenger transport infrastructure

The Murmansk Region is of significant interest for tourists from around the globe. The vessels of the FSUE "Atomflot" icebreakers fleet provide tourist cruses to the North Pole, islands and archipelagos of the Central Arctic.

The Arctic Harbour project is being implemented in the framework of preparation to the 100-year anniversary of Murmansk in order to build the needed infrastructure for receiving and servicing cruise ship and ferries, create a regular ferry link with Norway and increase the number of foreign cruise vessels entering the port.

Development the regional port infrastructure is closely connected with development of the railway transport infrastructure. The general railway transport is a leading element of the regional transport system. It takes up a considerable share of the cargo and passenger transport market. Total length of railways in the Murmansk region is about 870 kilometres.

A reconstruction of passenger transport infrastructure facilities and creation of a single transfer complex uniting the sea, railway and bus passenger terminals are planned to be carried out in Murmansk in the future.

Automobile transport plays an important part in passenger transport connections between the Murmansk region and the bordering countries. The length of federal, regional and local public roads in the Murmansk region is over 3.5 thousand km.

There are three international automobiles border checkpoints in the Murmansk Region: the Borisoglebsky, Lotta and Salla. Due to the increased traffic, there are a number of projects for the purposes of technical equipment of the international border checkpoints for automobiles and road reconstruction to be funded, in part, from international cross-border cooperation programmes.

Considering a certain distance of the Murmansk Region from the central Russia, air transport is of particular importance for passengers.

There are two operational airports on the Kola Peninsula providing services for aircraft and passengers and handling of luggage, post and cargoes: in Murmansk and Apatity. There are also landing grounds for local airlines.

Up to 550 thousand passengers pass through the Murmansk Airport each year. The reconstruction of the runway, apron and lighting has been finalised by now. Reconstruction of the passenger terminal, cargo terminal and engineering networks of the maintenance zone is planned finalised by 2015.






Cargo traffic by transport type, thousand tonnes

























    Cargo turnover

    Total, m tonne-km





Public passenger transport, m people




















    sea, thousand





    air, thousand





* transported by shipping companies of the Murmansk region