RUSSIA: More than 400 representatives from 150 companies including the major international suppliers, consultancies and investors attended an industry day for the Moscow - Kazan high speed line project which was held in Moscow on March 4.

After appointing the Lengiprotrans Design Institute to undertake initial studies for high speed lines from Moscow to St Petersburg, Adler or Kazan, Russian Railways has selected a 770 km Moscow - Vladimir - Nizhny Novgorod - Kazan route for its pilot project. RZD says this corridor would serve regions where 20% of the total population of Russia live.

RZD's high speed rail development subsidiary set out the organisational, legal and financial models which could be used to undertake the project, and said 10 consortia were ready to undertake further discussions.

The high speed line would be 'the first major infrastructure project in the railway industry in Russia implemented through public-private partnership', according to RZD First Vice-President Alexander Misharin. 'For the first time in modern railway construction, we will apply a concession mechanism which should contribute to the effectiveness of the interaction between all participants'.

The alignment would be designed for speeds up to 400 km/h, giving an end-to-end journey time of 3½ h. Ridership is estimated at 10·5 million passengers/year by 2020, and last year the total cost of the project was estimated at 928bn roubles.