"Our investment in infrastructure shows we are maintaining our development course" says Yakunin
The jubilee X International Railway Business Forum "Strategic Partnership 1520" in Sochi opened with a plenary discussion under the rubric "10 Years of Trust".
The participants, who included Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov and the President of Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin, noted the strong impact of the current difficult economic conditions on the transport sector. Global economic growth in 2014 was below expectations, and the gap between supply and demand in developed and developing countries and the high volatility of commodity prices and exchange rates has remained. According to forecasts, global economic growth in 2015 will be about 3%.
"Among the main sources of growth are so-called reindustrialisation and the active development of modern infrastructure, including in the rail sector. Each rouble invested in the Russian economy yields a rouble multiplier effect of 1.46 on GDP," said Vladimir Yakunin in his speech.
According to estimates, an increase of 1% of GDP invested in infrastructure in the advanced economies results in a further increase in output of about 0.4% in the same year, with a gradual rise to 1.5% after 4 years.
"Despite all the difficulties, work is continuing on rail reconstruction and finding the best ways to manage the railways. We continue to work with the government on developing and improving the legal framework, and we are extremely grateful to the government and the president for deciding to develop the railway infrastructure in difficult economic conditions. Experts on the 1520 space abroad also see this as evidence of the government maintaining its course," said Vladimir Yakunin.
"All strategic areas continue to be part of the railway infrastructure: the development of approaches to the Murmansk transport hub and the ports of Vostochny and Nakhodka in the Primorye Territory on Russia's Pacific coast, the development of the Krasnodar transportation hub and, of course, the development of approaches to the ports in Russia's North-West region. The priority is not only freight, but also passenger traffic, and the Sapsan service between Moscow - St. Petersburg has proven itself in practice. This year was difficult in terms of budget investments, but a very important decision was nevertheless made to begin implementing a project to create a Moscow - Beijing high-speed corridor which passes through Kazakhstan. Designing the first stretch between Moscow - Kazan has already begun," said Russia's Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov in his speech.
The participants in the discussion also noted the importance of developing the East - West and North - South International Transport Corridors (ITCs), which carry the bulk of international and transit trade flows. Russian Railways has already started the large-scale development of the Trans-Siberian Railway, which is the backbone of the East - West ITC.
In the eastern part of this International Transport Corridor, the Ulan Bator Railway is being modernised in cooperation with Mongolia. Together with North Korea, the restoration of the railway section between Khasan - Rajin, a pilot project for reconstruction of the Trans-Korean Railway, has been completed.
In cooperation with China, the border crossing between Makhalino - Hunchun has also been successfully restored. In the western part of the corridor, work continues on the project to extend the 1520mm broad gauge railway line from Košice in the Slovak Republic to Bratislava and Vienna. This will reduce the actual delivery time of goods between Asia and Europe by up to 12-14 days, which is twice as fast as the sea route.
"It is extremely important to implement the final stage in the development of the North - South ITC, to build a section of the railway in Azerbaijan which connects it with Iran's infrastructure. In this regard, we are working with our colleagues from Azerbaijani and Iranian Railways," said Vladimir Yakunin.
Experts also spoke about the prospects for implementing global projects in a fundamentally new type of Eurasian relations: the Russian Trans-Eurasian belt "RAZVITIE" and the Chinese initiative Economic Belt of the Silk Road.
A qualitatively new level of traffic between Asia and Europe, the expansion of the common market, the diversification of logistics capabilities across the 1520 space and the most efficient use of its transport potential will depend on the integration of these initiatives and their successful implementation.