Russian Railways begins "Year of the Passenger"
The RZD Holding has declared 2016 Year of the Passenger.
In the coming year, the Holding's work will focus on the needs of the population with regard to quality and affordable rail transport, improving the economic efficiency of transport and developing high-speed rail links.
In order to increase the affordability of passenger traffic, in 2016 the Holding will employ a series of marketing tools, including a flexible tariff policy, dynamic pricing, a variety of events and loyalty programmes.
This builds on the success achieved in 2015, when more than two-thirds of the total number of passengers purchased tickets for compartments and sleeping compartments at less than the base price.
About two million passengers travelled on discounted fares in the regulated segment, taking advantage of the Federal Passenger Company's ability to reduce the cost of travel in second-class passenger carriages and normal carriages.
Expanding "Daily Express Trains"
The RZD Holding is constantly working to expand its range of passenger transport products and services and will continue this work in 2016. For example, under the progamme "Daily Express Trains", train speeds and frequencies, as well as the geography of their routes, will be increased. The new timetable provides for 38 pairs of daily trains on 21 different routes. The Company's plans include a rapid expansion of daily trains between Moscow – Lipetsk, Moscow – Ivanovo, Kazan – Izhevsk, Moscow – Saransk, Adler – Mineralnye Vody and other directions.
Double-decker coaches - combining comfort and savings
Double-decker carriages experienced great demand from passengers in 2015. Last year, double-decker trains entered service on four new routes: Moscow – St. Petersburg, Moscow – Kazan, Moscow – Voronezh and Moscow – Samara.
The Company plans to buy another 74 double-decker carriages in 2016 and thus to increase the fleet of double-decker carriages by 50%, leading to the appearance of these new trains on new routes.
Express and high-speed trains are becoming increasingly popular with passengers. In 2015, the number of passengers travelling by high-speed trains operated by Russian Railways rose to nearly 5 million people, an increase of 14% compared to the previous year.
In view of the constantly growing demand for such fast transport, and focusing on the needs of passengers, the RZD Holding will continue to introduce new high-speed train routes in 2016 and optimise the schedule of actions with the aim of ensuring convenient departure and arrival times, stops en route and connections with other trains. The Company will also increase the affordability of fast transport in order to provide greater mobility to passengers with different income levels.
The current year will also see Russian Railways continue to develop car-transporter wagons so that passengers can take their vehicles with them, for instance on holiday, as well as multimodal transport, the RZD Bonus loyalty programme and the sale of tickets etc.
In 2015, every ticket purchased by passengers was electronic.
Taking care of the most vulnerable passengers
One of the Company's priorities for developing passenger transport in 2016 is to increase service levels for people with limited mobility in view of the growing demand for such transport.
The RZD Holding is therefore undertaking systemic measures to create a more accessible environment for people with limited mobility at stations and on board trains. Russian Railways is modernising stations and adapting them so that people with disabilities can enjoy easy access by installing the right equipment at the major functional areas of stations, such as ramps, lifts, escalators, ticket offices with lower counters equipped with induction loops for the hearing impaired, tactile lines for the visually impaired and specialised cubicles in toilets etc.
Also being modernised and re-equipped are passenger carriages to accommodate wheelchairs, while , new (staff) cars are being purchased which are equipped with compartments designed for the passage of wheelchair users - the Federal Passenger Company's fleet currently has more than 500 such carriages.
The Federal Passenger Company's investment programme for 2016-2018 envisages the acquisition of 60 staff cars and equipment for 121 regular carriages for passengers with limited mobility.
The interior of the high-speed train models operated by Russian Railways - the Sapsan, Lastochka, Strizh and Allegro - is designed to take into account all possible passenger needs, including passengers with disabilities, for whom these trains have special places and adapted toilet and sanitary rooms.
Suburbs under special control
This year, Russia's leadership adopted systemic decisions aimed at implementing the concept of suburban passenger rail transport, under which the grace "infrastructure" coefficient at the level of 1% was extended, VAT was set at zero for commuter traffic, and the regions saw their right to set current fares for passengers and the actual cost of transportation confirmed.
These measures have contributed to an increase in funding for commuter traffic in the subjects of the Russian Federation. In order to further stabilise the suburban complex, the decisions taken by the Government of the Russian Federation with respect to 2015-2016 years will have to be extended for the long term.
In 2015, the number of regions that received full compensation for losses on commuter services more than doubled, while the number of suburban railway companies which broke even increased by 1.5 times. Orders for suburban transport were place. At the moment, almost all regions have completed the tariff regulation and contracts for public transport services are being signed. To ensure passenger comfort, the RZD Holding is continuing to renew the commuter passenger train fleet.
In general, the Company's main efforts in 2016 will be directed at improving the quality of transportation by enabling passengers to purchase tickets at affordable prices, including the use of Internet technologies, and with time to travel in comfort on commuter trains.
A number of suburban passenger transport companies are now preparing a new product - the launch of high-speed Lastochka trains.
This year will also see the continued development of the City Express urban transportation project.