Russian Railroads plans to build as many as six new passenger trains each year from the United States, the head of the rail network’s board has said.
The project, to be led by Russia’s state-owned company Rosavia, is likely to cost up to $5bn and be completed in 2021, the company’s chief executive, Alexander Yakovenko, said on Monday.
The plan is likely one of several that Russia will undertake to increase its reliance on the US as it seeks to reduce its reliance in the region, which accounts for about 30 per cent of the world’s rail exports.
Russia has not yet decided whether to open up its borders to US firms in the hope that the new trains will boost economic activity in the US.
The plans, which Yakovenky said were not in the form of a list of criteria, were a response to a request from the Federal Railways and the European Union for proposals to boost rail passenger traffic from the European continent, Yakovenk said.
“We have to do our best,” Yakovenkov said.
“Our aim is to increase passenger traffic.”
Yakovenko said he was concerned that, with the country facing a worsening economic crisis, the Russian government would not be able to meet its international obligations to ease congestion in its rail network.
Railway passenger traffic rose by about 40 per cent last year, according to the Russian Railway.
Russian Railways is a subsidiary of state-run Russian Rail Corp (RRC), which has been in a slump since the collapse of the ruble and its currency crisis.
Earlier this year, the country was ranked by the World Economic Forum as the worst performing country in the world in terms of rail performance, falling behind China, Iran and the United Arab Emirates.
A number of Russian firms have recently moved into passenger services, such as Russian Rail Transit, which operates freight and coach services.
Yakovlev said that, in 2018, the average number of trains per day was about 1,700 per day, compared to about 500 per day for all passenger traffic.
One of the key issues in the development of the new passenger services is the need to increase the amount of space on the trains for passengers, he said.
The new trains, which will be equipped with electronic equipment, will be able handle more passengers and carry more passengers, Yakovlev said.