BELARUS: The government approved a 2011-15 railway development programme at the end of December, setting out objectives for modernising national railway BC’s fleet, upgrading infrastructure, reducing energy consumption and ensuring safety. The cost is put at 14tr rubles, to be sourced from BC’s own resources, bank loans and national and local government.

Strategic investment will include the acquisition of rolling stock meeting modern customer expectations. This will include 24 electric and eight diesel locomotives for passenger traffic, 29 electric and 20 diesel multiple-units, 182 coaches, six shunting locomotives, 30 electric freight locomotives and 10000 wagons. The Asipovichy – Zhlobin – Homel, Maladzyechna – Gudogay – Lithuania, Zhlobin – Kalinkavichy and Kolodishchi – Shabany lines will be electrified, a total of 387 route-km. Initial contracts were awarded to Chinese firms last year.

The speeds of inter-regional trains from Minsk will be increased, and stations at Brest, Hrodna and Baranovichi rebuilt. Freight traffic is expected to grow by 121% by 2015 and passenger traffic by 104%, while modern technology will bring a 30% reduction in energy consumption.