MOSCOW Mayor Yuri Luzhkov joined the celebrations on July 29 to mark the launch of Russian Railways' second dedicated airport rail service in the capital.

He was joined at Moscow Kievskaya station by RZD President Gennady Fadeyev, Moscow Railway President Vladimir Starostenko and the Chairman of Vuknovo International Airport's board of directors Dmitry Panin.

Under a programme costing 646m roubles, of which 376m has been spent so far, a 33 km freight line has been upgraded to an express commuter route, joining Moscow with a station near Vuknovo Airport, linked by a 1·5 km bus shuttle. The line will later be extended in tunnel under the runway to a station below the main terminal building. RZD also hopes to extend the route to serve Sheremetyevo Airport.

Revenue service to Vuknovo began on August 1 using standard EMUs. The initial service of 18 trains/day in each direction is expected to handle around 20% of the airline passengers using the airport - last year's 2·8 million total is forecast to rise to 5 million in 2005. A check-in facility at Kievskaya will open on December 1, and a fleet of 18 Sputnik EMUs now on order for the route is due to enter service on January 1, cutting the journey time to 35min.

  • RZD is expected to complete an initial study this month for a dedicated shuttle service between St Petersburg's Baltic station and the two terminals at Pulkovo Airport via Predportotwaja.