«High-speed Railway»
Рус / Eng


11 january

Russia«s high-speed rail network promises a fast future and a major economic boost

Track record: high-speed services like those provided by the Sapsan trains are seen as the best way to improve mobility and boost the economy

Building new networks for high — speed trains could help cut traffic congestion, reduce journey times and help boost the economy.

Motorists were stranded for three days in an enormous traffic jam in heavy snow on the M10 between Moscow and St Petersburg on November 30, causing economic damage estimated at more than £3m.

Experts say that, given Russia’s dependence on the car, a similar jam could happen again. Hopes of a solution rest on the construction of a new high-speed rail line for passengers between the two cities that would free the existing line for freight.

“When so many transport corridors connecting cities are prone to bottlenecks and it being hard to broaden them, high-speed railways might help to ensure the mobility of the population. They don’t require too much space and can carry lots of passengers. There is no other option”, says Martha Lorenz, a senior transport specialist at the World Bank.

High-speed trains were introduced by the Japanese, who have almost half a century’s head start on the rest of the world. Japan opened the first Shinkansen high-speed line in 1964, as part of its preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.

Network with a fast future

The high-speed train was so successful that the profits easily exceeded the project’s operating expenses, interests on the loan and depreciation costs. France launched a similar project with its first high-speed line, which connected Lyon with Paris, completed in 1981.

Dozens of countries now have their own high-speed train networks — which are often described as “airport killers” and “railway saviours”- with Russia getting in on the act only this decade. The Russian rail operator RZD is looking to spend more than $200bn (£124bn) to extend its rail network across 7,500 miles by 2030.

Analysts predict that this investment will increase total rail passenger traffic to 34 million people per year and considerably reduce the pressure on existing transport corridors.

Russia is already developing railway projects for fast trains in the area between St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. A separate line dedicated to high-speed trains could cost up to $35bn. Sapsan trains run a fast service between St Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, but it uses the existing line that is shared with cargo freight and slower passenger services. Allegro runs a high-speed service between St Petersburg and Helsinki.

Vladimir Yakunin, the president of Russian Railways, insists in all his interviews that these railways are indispensable and are the best way forward for the country. Railway operators agree that better mobility might help address many of Russia’s economic problems.

Russian Railways hopes that developing the railways will create a total of 40,000 new jobs, help attract new foreign tourists and result in a boost to the economy of around four trillion roubles.

Since Sapsan began operating in 2009, its service has been in high demand.

“It is impossible to separate the continuous development of cities from the impact that railways produce on them. But the fact that more than 85pc of all Sapsan seats are normally booked is quite indicative. If people use this service, that means that their requirements are met effectively, and the fact that there is very little luggage means that Sapsan is mostly used for business trips”, says Andrey Rozhkov, a senior analyst at the Metropol transport sector.

Oleg Trudov, a railways specialist at the Institute of Problems of Natural Monopolies, believes that high-speed trains offer convenience because they take passengers directly into city centres, as opposed to arriving at airports that are often several miles away.

This makes them a serious competitor with airlines and forces the latter to cut fares and increase comfort for passengers. Nizhny Novgorod international airport reported that airlines had to cut their fares when the Sapsan line launched there in 2011.

The airport also made its check-in rules more flexible to compete with the convenience of travelling by train. Similar economic benefits in terms of job creation and relieving road congestion are predicted for HS2, the high speed rail network that is planned to connect London and Birmingham in 2025.

Andrew Meaney, managing consultant at Oxford-based Oxera, believes that the new line will have an economic impact of £20.6bn, of which £5.7bn will be from the time saved by using the faster train.

Platform for growth: the economic case

In Spain, the new Madrid to Barcelona high-speed train service will create 136,000 jobs by 2016, says María del Carmen Palao Ibáñez, director for communications at Adif engineering.

Although the service will employ directly only 1,050 people in specialist posts, most of the jobs are expected to be created in the service sector, many in catering, retail and tourism.

Madrid stores are expected to sell an extra 2.8 million drinks, while museums will have 180,000-250,000 more visitors.

Deutsche Bahn said that the ICE (Intercity-Express) helped many residents of smaller towns to find better jobs or increase their incomes by enabling them to reach big cities faster. Last year, almost 243,000 people commuted to Berlin daily.

Sourse: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sponsored/russianow/business/9769589/russia-high-speed-rail-network.html

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