After the Russian invasion to Crimea in 2014, the key task of the aggressor state was to provide passenger services to the occupied peninsula. It had four goals – the rotation of the occupation contingent, the Russia’s colonization of the peninsula, the social connection of the Crimean residents with the “mainland” and the tourists’ transportation.
Contrary to Russian propaganda, the construction of the “Kerch Bridge” was in fact important primarily for the transportation of goods by trucks rather than passengers and for the military needs of the occupiers – by rail.
The role of the “bridge” in purely passenger traffic remained optional and it was important only in the illegal movement of private vehicles to neighboring regions.
As an example, the passenger railway service across the “bridge”, illegally organized by the so-called “Crimean Railway” and the company “GrandServiceExpress” provided in 2021 sixteen directions of “long-distance” trains, there were an average of three pairs of trains a day throughout the year, and about seven pairs of trains a day in the summer.
Simple calculations show that in three summer months, with the maximum possible length of trains and their filling, the number of passengers transported to the Crimea could be up to 700 thousand persons in one direction in one hundred days. In addition, the average time of transportation from the Crimea to major cities in Russia by passenger train ranged from 32 to 50 hours.
At the same time, the invaders reported an alleged “five million tourists” on the peninsula in a year, not counting other passenger traffic.
Although these figures are inflated, it is an indisputable fact that the occupiers made a key bet not on the railway, but on flights to Crimea, which was illegally carried out through Simferopol airport with the involvement of dozens of Russian airlines, including “low-cost” carriers.
But after a large-scale aggression against mainland Ukraine started, the activities of the Simferopol airport were “suspended” by the occupiers. It is obvious that it will be restored only after the full end of hostilities in mainland Ukraine.
The aggressor’s refusal to acknowledge its strategic defeat now will mean that such an end is unlikely in the near future and could have a direct effect on ending the occupation of Crimea.
Today, almost no one takes the invaders’ absurd dreams “to resume flights to Crimea after the complete demilitarization of Ukraine”.
Moreover, now Andriy Kalmykov, former director of the low-cost carrier “Pobeda”, which until 2022 was engaged in illegal air transportation to the Crimea, and who now fled from Russia to Europe, said in an interview the collapse of at least “budget” air travel in Russia and on their physical shortage boards.
It is noteworthy that under such conditions, the occupiers’ propaganda promises “7 million tourists” in the summer – 2022 in the Crimea
But the Russian occupiers will not be able to increase the capacity of railway transportation across the Kerch Bridge; the “export” train to Moscow added by them on February 24 can provide an additional only up to 30,000 passengers from the Crimea per month.
Although the occupiers claim that they have formed an alleged “land corridor” between Crimea and the occupied districts of Donetsk Region, according to the Ukrainian Army’s General Staff, the only present railway service in those areas is currently at least near the hostilities’ line, which, according to these reports, has not changed significantly in recent weeks.
Thus, the large-scale war, unleashed by the aggressor against Ukraine, led, among other things, to a passenger transport collapse in the Crimea, which will be objectively resolved, including in the context of the deoccupation of the peninsula.