FUNDING shortages in Russia are starting to affect the metro networks in major cities. So serious has the situation become that hearings were recently held in the Duma, where members heard that operating costs this year require funds totalling 4·27bn roubles, although the state budget only allocates 850m roubles. The Duma responded by concluding that local governments should be made responsible for increasing the amount of finance available for metro operation and construction. Where they will obtain it is anyone’s guess.

In Moscow the city authorities and the Moscow District compensate Russian Railways for the loss made on providing the heavily-used commuter services. RZD has around 1560 EMU cars over 35 years old which it says need replacement, with 5500 more also approaching life expiry. According to Valeri Shatayev, Director of RZD’s passenger services department, these ageing trains are costing RZD dear in power consumption, which he claims in some cases amounts to half the total cost of the service. The first of a fleet of modern EMUs from the Demikhovo factory should be delivered for services in Moscow this year, perhaps easing Mr Shateyev’s burden.

  • A 200 km/h passenger coach equipped with a variable-gauge bogie has covered 37000 km of trial running at the Shcherbinka test track south of Moscow. Numerous passes through a 1520mm/1435mm gauge change facility have been made, and the aim is to carry out half a million passes. The coach will now go to the Belorechenskaya high speed test track near Krasnodar and then to Varna in Bulgaria. Trials should be completed by August, and if successful, they will lead to construction of a pilot series of variable-gauge bogies.