Experts Discussed Measures to Develop Suburban Passenger Train Complex

30 november 2017

Federal departments, regional leaders, Russian Railways and suburban passenger companies (SPC) are awaiting the adoption of decisions by legislative and executive authorities that will give a new powerful boost to the sector development. This was the conclusion reached by the participants of the roundtable "The Place of Suburban Passenger Railway Transportation in Resolving the Problems of Agglomerations," which was held at the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation.

Opening the roundtable, Deputy Head of the Analytical Center Svetlana Ganeeva noted that resolving the current problems of suburban passenger train complex is only possible with a consolidated position of all stakeholders.

The main document which regulates legal relations between the regions, Russian Railways and SPCs – the draft law "On Organizing Regular Passenger Train Transportation in the Russian Federation" – was revised and submitted to the Government. According to Advisor to the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Yuri Yelizariev, it stipulates a number of provisions which fortify and detail the new system of passenger railway transportation organization, making it more reliable, stable and effective.

Pavel Shpilevoy, Advisor to the Head of FAS, informed that the Service, jointly with the Russian Railways, is working on resolving the issue of reducing financial burden on the suburban passenger companies. The current tariff system requires revision, since it does not ensure a balance of interests among the Russian Railways, SPCs, and the regions. FAS proposes a new methodology for setting the rolling stock lease and maintenance tariffs, which should stimulate cost reductions and efficiency improvement in the sector. The methodology envisages unification of tariffs for rolling stock lease and maintenance regardless of the region, as well as exclusion from the tariffs of the railway depot expenses not related to suburban transportation and their overhead expenses. This will allow reducing expenses of the SPCs and generating additional income for acquisition of new rolling stock.

Head of the Center for Corporate Management of the Suburban Complex of Russian Railways Aleksey Beliankin urged to use a balanced approach to the revision of separate accounting when preparing the methodology, because the reduction of burden on SPCs does not always mean that the regions will allocate the released funds to purchase new rolling stock.

Deputy General Director of the Institute of Natural Monopolies Research (IPEM) Vladimir Savchuk drew attention to the fact that one of the most important tools for resolving the problems of suburban passenger complex is long-term contracts of SPCs with the regions. According to him, "this will significantly facilitate fundraising, will ensure a guaranteed financing source for obligations related to acquisition of the rolling stock, its maintenance and current repairs."

Deputy Director of the Department for State Regulation of Tariffs of the Ministry of Economic Development Vasiliy Shipilov presumes that one more hidden reserve constitutes the revision of mandatory requirements for commuter trains, in particular, for their service life. If the service life is shorter, the rolling stock will be renewed more often and it will be complying with the requirements for travel safety and conditions.

The experts paid special attention to the fact that integration of railway passenger transportation in the urban infrastructure is required due to the intensive development of large agglomerations. According to President of the Infrastructure Economics Center Vladimir Kosoy, the management of Moscow and the  Transport Department of the capital are planning to significantly enhance the role of railway transport in intra-city transportation and to double the volume of transportation by commuter trains. Due to the railcar dimensions, the passenger capacity of urban railway is twice as high as the metro system's, and its carrying capacity is 1.5 times higher. It is important in this respect that the development of above-ground railway lines is 12-20 times cheaper than the metro system development.

The Analytical Center expertAleksey Safronov noted that, according to the methodology for monetary estimation of the effects yielded by suburban railway transportation for the development of the Moscow Transportation Hub, the benefits from operating suburban railway transportation are many times higher than the subsidies spent by regional authorities for supporting the suburban transportation.

On his part, Ruslan Lisnevsky, from the Institute of Economics and Transportation Policy Studies of the Higher School of Economics, emphasized that the value of railway transportation for urban agglomerations consists, first of all, in multiplication effects.