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11 Sep, 2009 10:28

Expo 1520 brings railways and Russia back into focus

International Railway Salon Expo 1520 is taking place in Moscow Region, bringing together all the countries using the 1520 millimeter gauge. They plan to boost demand for wagons, locomotives, and high speed trains.

Fast transport for vast territories. By 2030 Russia will more than double the length of railway track to 200 thousand kilometers – spurring demand for high speed trains to ease travel across the country.

It's a complex task for railway operators – and train producers, keen to enter the market. The front runners are French producer Alstom and Germany’s Siemens. Both have pilot contracts with the Russian railways according to Aleksandr Nazarov, Head of the Technical department at Russian Railways.

“The potential for Siemens and Alstom is the same. We are working with them to raise quality and lower costs. We don’t give anyone a preference. We have competition, tenders and we chose a worthy partner. It's important – not only the supply of trains, but continued maintenance. Currently, Siemens is doing a better job.”

But Alstom has high hopes. It’s in the final stage of buying a stake of 25% plus one share in TranMashHolding – one Russia’s largest machine building factories. The first tranche – $75 million- will be paid after finalizing the deal.

Another shareholder of TransMashHolding is Russian Railways which also owns a quarter. Philippe Mellier, President of Alstom Transport says working with the Russia rail giant is a key part of the investment.

“To partner with a big Russian company like TransMashHolding is an investment for us and demonstrates our commitment to Russia in the long-term. I think it’s going to pay off because we have the right partnership, on one side with TransMashHolding, on the other side with RZHD and if it works very well I think the future is very good for us.”

But Siemens is going all out as well. At the EXPO1520 it went further than the other companies, and didn’t just bring a model of train, but even provided a test drive.