OREANDA-NEWS. December 17, 2013. A discussion took place on "The Transport Business and Market Conditions" during the XI International Conference "The Transport Services Market: Cooperation and Partnership", which is being held in Moscow.

The discussion was attended by Salman Babaev, Vice-President of Russian Railways, as well as by CEOs of rolling stock operators and representatives from industry associations and the academic community.

The discussion looked at the problems arising from the surplus fleet of freight rolling stock at a time of declining loading volumes and considered initiatives on rolling stock quotas.

At present, Russian Railways is transporting freight wagons at the highest level of efficiency ever achieved in the history of Russia's railways. However, the volume of ¬freight transportation is not increasing due to the irrational use of wagons that run empty on return journeys after deliveries.

The participants in the discussion noted that the market for operating rolling stock is now functioning. The aim of attracting private investment to renew of the wagon fleet has also been achieved and there are now nearly 1.2 million units of rolling stock on the rail network.

However, according to Salman Babaev, a situation has developed which is similar to that on the roads - traffic is slowed down as the number of vehicles continues to rise very rapidly while the necessary infrastructure remains underdeveloped.

In order to improve the technical efficiency of rail transport, estimates of the required wagon fleet are needed. The Target Model for the Rail Freight Market Until 2015, which has been approved by the Russian government, provides for the establishment of no more than 3-4 rolling stock operators on the rail network as a result of the rail sector's reform and consolidation process and which can work with a pooled rolling stock fleet. This approach would have achieved the highest level of efficiency in using rolling stock and infrastructure.

As an alternative to consolidating the operating companies at the current stage, it is being proposed that the possibility be explored of consolidating the fleet of universal rolling stock (open-box cars) by combining it with the rolling stock pool which would be managed from a single centre. Russian Railways could take on the role of distributing the empty wagons to the nearest loading stations. The carrier would therefore guarantee the shipment of a specific volume of freight using a specified number a certain of wagons.