Russian railways
Global Railway Review

The continual progress of Russian Railways’ digital transformation

Evgeny Charkin, Deputy Managing Director, Digital Transformation and Information Technology, of Russian Railways (RZD) explains how digital technologies are at the heart of the company’s development, increasing efficiency, improving quality of services and aiding contactless interaction.

Russian railway transportation has gone through a very serious transformation over the past two decades, from being a government ministry to becoming the industry’s largest holding. We are used to working under conditions of constant changes, and today this is a big advantage we have over other companies. Clients, macroeconomics, competitors and innovations all dictate the need to be in permanent flux.

Digital Transformation Strategy

In 2019, Russian Railways (RZD) became one of the first Russian state-owned companies of its size to develop and approve its Digital Transformation Strategy at the board level.

Since then, we have gained useful experience in carrying out our Strategy, its first effects have been seen, and we have identified the areas in which we need to focus our efforts. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, we redefined our work priorities to favour projects that allow remote and contactless interactions, both within the company and with our partners and customers.

Our Digital Transformation Strategy is set in the Long-term Development Programme of RZD by 2025, which outlines the overall strategic vector for development and is linked to government documents on the digital economy.

Taking into account the scale of our business, we are solving the extremely ambitious task of optimising processes using digital technologies. In some cases, classic automation does not show any noticeable improvements. A complete reengineering of these processes and updating the regulatory documents that define them are required. The key question here is ‘what are we doing?’ We are determining the results of our changes and increasing work efficiency.Of no less importance is our approach and methodology. Here, we are seeking a way to manage digital transformation projects and approaches to staffing, as well as managing our technology portfolio. We are also determining regulatory restrictions and building an organisational structure for managing our digital transformation. Changes in business are linked with developing technology: computing and telecommunication capacities and IT infrastructure.