June 17, 2008

Russian PM Putin Meets Railway Head, Discusses Strategy Until Year 2030

Excerpt from report by state-owned Russian television channel Rossiya on 17 June

[Presenter] Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was today presented with a strategy for the development of rail transport until the year 2030. The cost of the project is R14,000bn, whereas significant investment is expected from private investors. Over these years, the network of railways in the country is expected to grow by 20,000 kilometres and the speed of traffic on it by nearly a third. Valentin Bogdanov assessed the future of the industry along with the prime minister. [Passage omitted: Correspondent says 20,000 km of new railroads will appear on the map by the year 2030]

[Putin] I know that this is a very big part of your activities and that you will develop this company effectively. This is because, in a natural way, the rail sphere, the rail industry and the company is what creates and ensures the unity of the economic space of Russia. This is certainly so.

With regard to the strategy for the development of rail industry until the year 2030 - it will be signed by me today.

[Correspondent] Altay, Yakutia, Tyva - railways will finally come to these regions. Each rouble invested should bring three in profit - thus the total multiplier effect for the economy will amount to R44,000bn. [Passage omitted: Head of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin spoke of plans to use GLONASS satellite navigation system to track trains and cargo.]

The renewal of the rolling stock is one of the tasks that should have been tackled yesterday. The Russian Railways need one million cargo cars alone. Here there is a problem - the growth of world prices for metals is increasing the cost of rolling stock. Yakunin thinks that monopolies have become an obstacle on the way of reform. Vladimir Putin suggested that the Russian Railways should start closer to home.

[Putin] RAO Russian Railways is also a monopoly to a certain extent. You now spoke of the problem of the rolling stock. In order for private investment to come into this sphere of activities, as you would want it to be, you as a natural monopoly should ensure equal access to services that your dispatch services are providing.

[Yakunin] Of course.

[Putin] This is still not always so. Therefore, while criticizing one set of monopolies, you should not forget that by acting from the other end you yourself may be having a similar negative effect on the development of the market. [Passage omitted: Putin met railway workers.]

Originally published by Rossiya TV, Moscow, in Russian 1600 17 Jun 08.

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