Russia to invest 11 billion dollars in railways

1st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia will invest more than 11 billion dollars to upgrade ageing national railway equipment and infrastructure, Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina said Wednesday.

"The investment program of Russian Railways for 2011 is 350 billion rubles, an 11 percent increase since 2010," Nabiullina was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti after a cabinet meeting.

The railway company is one of Russia's largest employers and carries more than one billion passengers across its network of 85,500 kilometres (53,000 miles). It has struggled to brush up its image and modernise by focusing on high-speed services connecting Moscow with key regional cities.

The company launched the Sapsan high speed train, made by Siemens and Alstom, to Saint Petersburg in 2009, and added Nizhny Novgorod this year.

A luxury train connecting Moscow with Nice in the south of France was launched in September.

Russian Railways has signed billion-dollar deals with Western companies Alstom and Siemens, and a memorandum with Finmeccanica, aiming to update its rusty fleet and technology.

Russian reports said Wednesday that the company wants fares hiked by 23 percent so help fund its modernisation but the move would infuriate millions of Russian travelers.

The government would not support such a steep price increase, Nabiullina said.

© 2010 AFP

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