May 14, 2019

70th meeting of Council on Rail Transport of Commonwealth Member States begins

The 70th meeting of the Council on Railway Transport of the Commonwealth Member States has taken up its work in the Finnish capital Helsinki.

The meeting is being attended by members of the organisation and the heads of the railway administrations in Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine and also by associated Council members and heads of railway administrations in Georgia, Latvia and Finland, as well as the heads of railways in Lithuania, Estonia and Iran.

Opening the meeting, Oleg Belozerov, who is Chairman of the Council, as well as Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Russian Railways, noted that Russian and Finnish railways have a special regulatory and legal framework to facilitate cooperation. This has enabled them successfully to increase shipments with all the other members of the Council.

In recent years, Russian Railways and the VR Group (Finnish Railways) have introduced electronic data exchange technology, which has made it possible to switch to paperless workflows in freight traffic. The possibility of organising regular piggyback transportation is also under development. In addition, technology has been introduced to transfer the results of Finnish customs checks to the Federal Customs Service of Russia, which has led to a significant increase in the speed of border control operations.

As a result of the joint efforts made by the Russian and Finnish sides, border and customs checks are now carried out on board moving trains rather than at the border itself, which has made it possible to introduce high-speed passenger traffic between St. Petersburg and Helsinki using Allegro trains.

Russian-Finnish traffic now accounts for 78% of the total volume of passenger traffic of Russian Railways with non-CIS counties. The branded train Leo Tolstoy, which runs between Moscow and Helsinki, and high-speed Allegro trains, are all seeing increasing passenger numbers.

At the meeting of the Rail Transport Council, it is planned to discuss a wide range of issues, including the performance of the operational work of the combined railway network and the results of international passenger traffic in 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.

In addition, a number of regulatory documents will be finalised and adopted. In particular, it is planned to approve standards for the development of the 2019/2020 train timetables.