PRIVATISATION of the Russian rail network has been ruled out by First Prime Minister B E Nemetsov, despite the drastic cost-saving programme imposed in July (RG 9.97 p575). Emphasising that ’the economy of Russia will fully depend on whether or not the railways function efficiently’, he insisted the railways should continue as a state enterprise. But ancilliary activities such as workshops, design consultancies and medical and social institutions will be hived off.

Restructuring of RZD’s regional management is continuing in line with last year’s proposals. All of the East Siberian Railway’s divisions have been abolished, as have three of the six at the Gorki Railway. GR President O Sharadze expects to make another 900 staff redundant before the end of this year.

As part of the drive to improve commercial performance, the director of the Railway Development & Economics Department B Lapidus has unveiled a major investment programme. Fixed priority projects totalling US$8·2bn include construction of a new bridge across the Amur river in Khabarovsk, and completion of the 15 km Severomuisky tunnel on the Baikal - Amur Magistral, which is to be resurrected at a cost of US$1bn. The Khabarovsk - Ussurisk and St Petersburg - Murmansk routes are to be electrified, and the Moscow - St Petersburg - Helsinki line upgraded for 200 km/h. The Moscow - Krasnoye - Brest corridor will also be modernised.

Vice-Minister of Railways E Podavashkin announced in August that RZD had approved an eight-year programme to modernise its communications network at a cost of US$1·8bn. As well as a 45000 km optic fibre network, satellite links costing US$200m are to be introduced by 1998 to cover the Siberian, Far Eastern and Kaliningrad regions. A subsidiary telecommunications company is to be set up, and Siemens and AT&T have been selected for work in the southwest and east of the country respectively.

  • Spanish consultancy Ineco has been chosen to assist with construction of the first 140 km section of the planned RAO VSM high speed line between St Petersburg and Moscow. The contract includes stations at Obukhovo, Zharvoskaya and Melnikovo, together with connections to the October Railway, maintenance depots, and installation of 25 kV AC electrification, communications and safety systems. o