creating the future

Railway transport development discussed at the RUSSIA EXPO

Railway transport development discussed at the RUSSIA EXPO
Expo News
Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/RIA News

The Passenger Logistics Day was held at the RUSSIA EXPO. At the discussion within the business program, experts addressed the topic Railway Transport for Passengers: Safe and Comfortable. The event was attended by Alexander Fedorchuk, Director of the Department of State Policy in the field of railway transport of the Ministry of Transport of Russia, Andrey Akimov, CEO of Aeroexpress LLC, Alexander Ganov, CEO of Grand Service Express TC JSC, Anton Zubikhin, Deputy CEO of Sinara Group, Ivan Kolesnikov, Deputy CEO of Russian Railways, Alexander Loshmanov, Deputy CEO for Passenger Transport Development of Transmashholding JSC, Alexander Loshmanov, Associate Professor of the Institute of Economics and Finance of the Russian University of Transport (MIIT).

The event began with a speech by Alexander Fedorchuk, Director of the Department of State Policy in the Field of Railway Transport of the Russian Ministry of Transport, where he spoke about the state's priorities in the development of railway transport. The expert noted that passenger railway transport is a key element of the backbone of Russia's transportation system. Passenger transportation is of significant social and economic importance for all regions of our country. "The task on which the state and the railroad industry are working is to increase the connectivity of territories, including on routes between small settlements without alternatives," the director of the department said. 

The expert specified that railroads run through the territories of 83 subjects taking into account the new regions of the Russian Federation. More than 1 billion passengers are transported by railways annually, in 2023 this figure amounted to 1.2 billion passengers, more than 200 thousand trips of long-distance trains and more than 2.4 million trips of suburban trains are performed. "Increasing transport accessibility of territories, improving the quality of services, ensuring comfort and safety of passenger transportation while maintaining the affordability of transportation for the entire price segment of passengers is a priority task for the state," added Alexander Fedorchuk. 

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/RIA News

Answering the question about the factors that currently allow railroads to successfully compete with other modes of transportation, the representative of the Ministry of Transport said that both historically established ties and new services offered by the companies contribute to this. As such an example, he cited the Sapsan train, which safely competes with aviation on the Moscow - St. Petersburg direction. "Working on increasing speed, digitalization of services - all those factors that make the service more accessible in a wide price segment, we are developing passenger transportation. And the assessment of our efforts is made by the passenger who buys a ticket for railway transport and gives it preference," emphasized the director of the department.

The state support of passenger transportation is a complex task. In general, 52.6 billion rubles were allocated from the federal budget to support suburban transportation from the Ministry of Transport in 2023, 12.2 billion rubles - to support long-distance transportation. Over the past 10 years, 30 percent of the rolling stock in suburban and long-distance transportation has been renewed. The government's task is also to maintain a high level of specialized education, which guarantees the provision of high-quality services.

In terms of social guarantees, free and discounted travel is provided to certain categories of citizens at the expense of regional and federal budgets. To date, the function of online ticket purchase for welfare categories has been implemented. Work is underway to update the Concept for the Development of Suburban Passenger Railway Transportation until 2035. Passenger railway transportation is being actively introduced into the system of citywide transport. Ivan Kolesnikov, Deputy Director General of Russian Railways JSC, drew attention to the current developments of Russian Railways in the passenger complex. In the coming year, the company plans to continue work on the digitalization of services and develop new routes, including tourist trains. The rolling stock is being actively renovated. About 500 cars are purchased annually, 160-180 of which are double-deck cars.

Railroad service is becoming in demand in the regions due to an increase in the level of mobility of the population. Long-distance destinations with high growth rates, such as the South, are in priority for the supply of double-deck trains, and the infrastructure is being modernized for these tasks. The explosive growth of suburban transportation can be seen on the routes where modern Ivolga and Lastochka trains run. Virtual coupling technologies, movable block-parties, schedule compaction and others allow to effectively use the existing infrastructure capabilities.

In turn, Andrey Akimov, CEO of Aeroexpress LLC, shared his experience in developing customer focus and said that the accuracy of schedule fulfillment by the company's trains exceeds 99 percent. Its stock has 21 trains, the average age of the train is 8.4 years. It has its own train maintenance depot. In 18 years of operation, Aeroexpress has carried more than 170 million passengers, in 2023 passenger traffic exceeded the bar of 11 million passengers and for the first time since 2016 the share in transportation to airports of the Moscow aviation hub amounted to 15.5 percent.

"The company's competitive advantages are relevance, convenience, affordable and predictable price and guaranteed travel time. Six channels of ticket sales are provided, which include online services - website and mobile application, traditional - ticket offices and machines in airports and railway stations, as well as a wide agent network," emphasized Andrey Akimov. It is possible to pay using modern methods such as Quick Payment System, SberPay, YandexPay, biometric payment. For group/family trips a flexible pricing policy has been developed, including a discount in relation to the standard ticket price.

Taking into account the trend of domestic tourism growth, the company is considering the possibility of launching the service in the regions. As a serious investment project requiring large financial investments, this direction requires detailed elaboration with the authorities of the subjects and the owner of the infrastructure. 

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/RIA News

Alexander Ganov, CEO of Grand Service Express TC JSC , spoke about rail travel. The company has managerial flexibility, which allows it to quickly adapt to changes and respond to challenges. Last year, a strategy to develop communication through social networks was taken, and the result exceeded expectations. Receiving an average of 20,000 requests per year through traditional communication channels, the number of subscribers has already exceeded the threshold of 60,000 people. The response time is 45 minutes, which makes it possible to promptly resolve issues related to breakdowns on the way, advise passengers on changes in the schedule.

In 2023, Grand Service Express carried 5 million passengers, a five-fold increase compared to 2020. The company's task is to ensure passenger comfort and develop services. For the convenience of car enthusiasts the transportation of vehicles is provided, specialized car-carriers run as part of the Tavria train. In order to diversify a long trip, as well as taking into account the fact that about 75 percent of passengers are tourists, and more than half of them are traveling with children, activities using the internal interactive system are offered on the way. The head of the company cited a chess tournament, quizzes and voting as examples. 

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/RIA News

Anton Zubikhin, Deputy CEO of Sinara Group, emphasized in his speech that the key standardizer of requirements for rolling stock is the passenger. If previously the requirements changed quite slowly and were formed for 40 years in advance, now the passenger's expectations increase every five years. These include wishes for personalization and personal space, the use of personal devices or gadgets, including the ability to use seamless high-speed internet and charging, increased noise insulation and hygiene.

Modern trains manufactured by Sinara are equipped with antibacterial handrails and an air purification system. The company's climate requirements are very high. The capacity is designed for the production of 250 cars annually at the current level of 150 cars per year, the existing stock will be able to meet the needs of domestic carriers.

The production and design competencies of the company allow to create a train for high-speed transportation. Anton Zubikhin added that due to the development of high-speed railroads our country will reach a completely new level of development of science and technology in the field of microprocessor technology, the Internet, design of materials and track structure, contact network.

Alexander Loshmanov, Deputy CEO for Passenger Transport Development of Transmashholding JSC, dwelt on the topic of import-independence. He said that the company's strategy implies technological sovereignty. TMH Engineering division has everything necessary to ensure the appropriate level of the operating model, so that the rolling stock would be not only technologically advanced, but also fully Russian.

Today, the fourth-generation Ivolga train is already available to be put into operation. This model takes into account such parameters as ergonomics, tactile sensations, lighting. A development program has been built on the basis of platform solutions, providing for modification of the internal layout and installation of capsule cars.

Based on the "digital twins" technology, a behavioral model of the passenger is created, the behavior on the platform, movements at the entrance and exit from the station is simulated, and computer solutions are developed. The company is working for the future, with plans to build double-decker cars of "T" size from 2026 with the prospect of increasing travel speeds up to 200 km/hour; the introduction of push-pull trains (without coupling) of permanent formation is also planned.

Dmitry Tvardovsky, Associate Professor at the Institute of Economics and Finance of the Russian University of Transport (MIIT), raised the issue of investment in railroad infrastructure. According to him, a passenger journey, like any project, starts with planning. The Transport Strategy of the Russian Federation until 2030 with a forecast for the period until 2035 provides for a choice between the use of combined infrastructure and the construction of separate infrastructure for passenger transportation.

For the Russian economy, the creation of a network of high-speed highways will provide an increase in gross domestic product and budget revenues, create prerequisites for the development of new industrial sectors, and ultimately contribute to the transition to a fundamentally new technological level. From the point of view of payback of the high-speed rail project, it is necessary to consider its cumulative multiplicative effect, which includes both the development of the mechanical engineering block and the reduction of travel time for passengers. Such projects can be carried out with the participation of various forms of support, including the issue of infrastructure bonds and concessions, which are an attractive mechanism for a wide range of investors.

The International RUSSIA EXPO is the most important achievements of the country gathered in one place. Throughout the exposition, guests are welcomed with cultural events, a rich business and educational program. The expositions of 89 Russian regions, leading federal agencies, corporations and public organizations are presented to the visitors. The exposition is held at VDNH in Moscow until April 12.

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