What legislative acts and regulations govern passenger transport standards in Russia? Why isn't there a nation-wide system for rendering transportation services? How to assess the amount of funding needed for road, water and air transport? These were some of the questions Analytical Center expert Yuri Elizariev tried to answer on RZD-TV (Russia Railways TV).
The state will use a systems-based approach to manage passenger transport
In passenger surveys rail transport manages to get a rating of almost 4 out of 5 and that's actually a positive trend for both commuter trains and long distance trains, Mr. Elizariev said. "The huge amount of changes that are happening at the moment are felt and assessed by passengers," he believes. "The state is now thinking that passenger transport should be managed across all modes of transportation. The fare is just the tip of the iceberg where demand for transport meets supply. But there are also other issues having to do with the standards of transportation services, transport planning, which up until now we've been doing very little of in our country."
Some 30 years ago there was an organization called the Institute for Comprehensive Transport Problems, the expert noted. That institute was the last bastion of comprehensive transport development and planning. "The comprehensive approach has always been paid lip service to but in reality only programs targeting specific modes of transport were ever implemented, it's just that they were presented under the same category. Now a new presidential decree has been issued as well as government resolutions that have tried to create some reference points," Mr. Elizariev said. "These are very ambitious goals that show us the direction we're moving in and consequently these reference points to a large extent dictate that we use a comprehensive approach from now on."
The expert is sure it's a question of implementation. "Take passenger transport, for example. The State Council and the President's May decrees state we need transport links between regions. There are at least three modes of transport that people use to go from region to region, taking into account seasonal variations in river navigability and constraints stemming from the maintenance of waterways. Rail transport is going to be in a very interesting situation now seeing how they want to get trillions of rubles. 20 billion is needed to maintain the internal waterways in accordance with relevant regulations. And these are problems of a complete different nature," he said.
The expert noted that work on comprehensive transport planning first started 2-3 years ago. In 2016 the Ministry of Transport teamed up with the Subjects of the Russian Federation to develop a comprehensive plan for transportation services as part of the socio-economic development of the regions. The plan included buses, commuter trains and for some regions it included water transport. Optimization was carried out: in some places it made more economic sense to use buses rather than commuter trains while in others the roads were already congested and commuter trains made more sense. "All these comprehensive plans were approved by the highest executive authority of each region and in some sense they represent a kind of a blueprint for what we're trying to achieve through legislation," Mr. Elizariev stressed. "Currently we need to finish this work, it needs the status of Comprehensive transport service plan based on which all other decisions are made and all the budget spending programs in the regions must be built around it."
A bill on the organization of regular passenger rail service was submitted to the State Duma. The document defines a system of interaction between all parties participating in transport services. In effect, this bill is the first attempt at establishing a level and fair playing field in the sector over the long term, Mr. Elizariev believes. The new bill seeks to establish a single decision making point and it's one of the first innovations in terms of regulations. Another innovation is the time-frame. The investment cycle in rail transport exceeds 15 years because the costs are usually very high and payback periods are very long. The new bill seeks to nudge the regions, the federal center and carriers to sign long term contracts to synch regulations with the investment cycles in rail transport.
"Passenger transport is a multi-dimensional sector where you need to take into account the interests of the rolling stock manufacturers and the financial groups that pay for it. It's a major problem in the regions. If we don't solve it, 5-6 years from now commuter trains will just grind to a halt, literally. Investors putting money in commuter trains must understand what's going to happen 15 years from now. They must be sure they are going to have guaranteed orders and a clear fare formula including adjustments for inflation and all the other aspects. The new bill on regular rail service seeks to make long term planning a permanent feature in the transport sector," he concluded.
Source: RZD-TV (Russian Railways TV)