Speed is of the essence as Russian railways steps into the future

Russian Railways is looking for a foreign partner to build the first high speed railway in Russia. Several companies are showing interest in the project, but investors are seeking government guarantees.

Faster journeys, with greater comfort and service – that's the aim of Russian Railways project to build high speed transport across the country.

Russian Railways has turned to the leaders in the sector for promoting the project among future partners. Spain is one of the leader in the high-speed segment in Europe. High-speed rail transport contributes 2.5% to countries GDP and achieved 50% growth in troubled 2009.

660 kilometres in 2-and-a-half hours – the target set by Russian Railways.  And it will wants to cover more than 10 thousand km with high-speed rails in a 20 year programme.   Denis Muratov, Head of High Speed Rail at Russian Railways says the right conditions will create major economic spinoffs.

“It’s the responsibility of the Russian State to create the conditions.  Moreover we think that, based on the researches that we have presented for the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Economy, it is clearly showed that during the time of the construction there will be a variety of different new industries that are going to be created in Russia – fast jobs and a lot of new services.”

As well as saving time, high speed rail shares the goal of economic development in Russia's regions.  Foreign partners will provide technology and expertise – forming a joint venture with an RGD subsidiary.

Cost estimates exceed 40 billion dollars – but that could come down. Paul Chapman, Managing Director of High Speed 1 says it all boils down to which standards are chosen.

“All new high speed railways are built to the same standards, rolling stock is built to the same standards, and, in theory, you should be able to run a train anywhere in the European network that has been built to that standard.  So Russian Railways needs to be very careful which standard it chooses if it wants to have a low cost railway for the future."

A new era of rail travel began in Russia with Aeroexpress – linking Moscow center to the airports and Sapsun – the first rapid train to St Petersburg.  Customers are convinced. It only remains to win over investors.  High-speed trains are unlikely to payback their construction costs before 2050.