RUSSIAN Minister of Railways Nikolai Aksyonenko signed a co-operation agreement with Siemens AG board member Volker Jung on January 23, during a visit to Germany. It covers technical assistance and supply of equipment by Siemens Transportation Systems for modernisation of signalling and train control, construction of locomotives and rolling stock, and renewal of communications systems.

Siemens already has around 700 employees in Russia. The company is providing rolling stock technology, and is assisting with electrification upgrading in the Moscow area. Work is due to get under way this year on a pilot resignalling on the Moscow - St Petersburg line.

Aksyonenko also met German Railway Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn to discuss enhanced rail services between the two countries. They agreed to form a working group which will draw up proposals by April for a joint venture company to operate inter-city passenger services on the Moscow - Berlin corridor. RZD and DB plan closer co-operation on international freight services, including Trans-Siberian landbridge traffic. n