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Russia to Join the High-Speed Rail Club

Russian Railways chief Yakunin has agreed with Putin on 150 billion rubles to be allocated for the project from state coffers.

Published: June 26, 2013 (Issue # 1766)



  • Russian Railways has considered running Alstom AGV trains on the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railroad.
    Photo: Wikimedia

International rail giants together with state and foreign investment banks are already eyeing the role they can play in one of the most expensive infrastructure projects in the world the high-speed rail line to be built from Moscow to Kazan, 800 kilometers east of the capital.

Last week at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, President Vladimir Putin announced plans to uncork the National Welfare Fund, or NWF, and spend 450 billion rubles ($13.6 billion) on three major infrastructure projects in the near future.

One of them is a new high-speed rail line to connect Moscow and major cities to the east: Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Cheboksary and Kazan.

Costing an estimated 928 billion rubles, it will become so far the only true high-speed line in the country with trains hurtling along its tracks at up to 400 kilometers per hour. The trip from Kazan to Moscow, which today can take close to 13 hours, will be reduced to 3.5 hours. And it will take an hour on average to travel between major cities on the line.

The existing express train service from Moscow to St. Petersburg and Nizhny Novgorod, as well as from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, is not technically considered to be high speed since those trains rarely run at 220 kilometers per hour.

A Mountain of Money

Russian Railways president Vladimir Yakunin said earlier that project work would start this year and would take a year to complete. Transportation Minister Maksim Sokolov said the whole line could be built as early as 2018, in time for the World Cup, which has Kazan scheduled as a venue.

While time is short, the officials stress that at this point what they have for the project is preliminary calculations and political will. As for financing, it is clear that even if the whole sum announced by President Vladimir Putin were to materialize for the Moscow Kazan rail line, it will only cover roughly half of the needed amount.

Seventy percent of the total sum required to build the line is meant to come from state funds, and the rest is to be provided by private investors, banks and other sources.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Sept. 3


Although the Peter and Paul Fortress sand sculptures are more central and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today. The World Collection of Sand Sculptures that have been on display at the park reaches its final day, so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.



Thursday, Sept. 4


Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.



Friday, Sept. 5


Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.



Saturday, Sept. 6


Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.


Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.



Sunday, Sept. 7


Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.



Monday, Sept. 8


This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.



Tuesday, Sept. 9


Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.


Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.



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