EVIDENCE is growing that the market for railway equipment in Russia is taking on real significance. With Russian Railways established as a state-owned company last October and embryonic private-sector operators emerging, the urgent need for investment in the 86660 km network is clearly being taken seriously.

Freight tonnage in the CIS and Baltic states was up by nearly 7% in the first five months of this year compared with 2003, and RZD is anxious to provide for further growth. On June 22 it announced that 87·5bn roubles would be spent on capital projects in 2004, while as much as 123bn roubles is earmarked for new freight wagons in 2005-10. This will pay for over 100000 vehicles, many of which are likely to be acquired under leasing deals. This year’s purchases include a fleet of 6000 gondola wagons, for example. Suppliers such as Uralvagonzavod are responding to demands for better performance with a new bogie designed to cut maintenance requirements.

RZD is also looking at fuel conservation policies, and at a meeting of OAO RZD’s Scientific & Technical Council held at Shcherbinka near Moscow on May 24 plans were announced to electrify a further 7000 route-km by 2010, taking the electrified network to 49000 km. Nearly all of the additional mileage will be wired at 25 kV 50Hz. OAO RZD also plans to continue developing gas-fuelled locomotives (RG 6.03 p386), with new designs expected to be tested in the next two years.

OAO RZD is meanwhile making strenuous efforts to attract more traffic to the Trans-Siberian route (RG 3.04 p148), and a special demonstration container service left Brest-Litovsk on June 15 bound for Ulan Bator, where it was due to arrive by June 23.