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Russian Railways are Russia’s national heritage

The Seventh International Rail Business Forum 1520 Strategic Partnership has come to a close in Sochi. As they regularly do, the forum’s independent directors have been summing up its results.

Sergey Karaganov, chairman of the Foreign and Defence Policy Council, said that, as a completely independent director of the forum, he would like to compliment the organisers and participants: the forum was dynamic, though no-one exceeded the time limit for interventions, which is rare at such events.

Sergey Karaganov focused on what he thinks the forum missed. The West-East corridor was represented, but not the North-South corridor. As somebody who has a soft spot for Germany, he was glad to see Siemens making great strides, but where was Asia – Japan, Korea and China?

Nikita Krichevsky, chairman of the expert panel of OPORA ROSSIA, a national organisation for small and medium entrepreneurship, said that the transport infrastructure is a social good that no-one should be deprived of. Can a private businessman produce a public good? No. So everything is in the hands of the state.

Andrey Nechayev, president of the Russian Finance Corporation, stated that he had found the forum interesting and instructive because he had experience of railway tariff regulation during the times of the Soviet Railways Ministry.

He believes that the status of the Russian Railways is inherently contradictory. The state must make up its mind whether it is a business or an instrument for tackling social and geopolitical problems. That would determine how much and where the state should invest.

The most emotionally charged speech was delivered by Alexander Lyubimov, TV anchorman and general director of RBC TV. “I am new to your world,” Lyubimov said. With characteristic humour, he said that his brain and natural curiosity could not handle the amount of new information he had received. But he pointed out several paradoxes: if freight movement is speeded up, fewer wagons will be needed, which would undermine machine building. If the freight flow increases, but the infrastructure bottlenecks remain, why generate the flow?

Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin thanked all the independent directors for their independent opinions, which are very important for the industry because people within the industry sometimes overlook obvious things that are noticeable to outsiders.

“We are not Eurocentrics; we are people who run the railway network on two continents,” he said. He went on to say his company would not vie with others for the title of “national heritage.” It was enough that it felt that way. “We do not have state authority to make national decisions; we are merely an instrument. But we can be an instrument that carries tonnes of freight, or we can tackle geopolitical tasks,” Vladimir Yakunin said in his wrap-up speech at the forum.

The Forum’s traditional key partners are JSC Russian Railways, Siemens AG, and Deutsche Bahn AG. The Forum organiser is the company Business Dialogue.

For further information, please contact the press centre of the Forum organiser, Business Dialogue Company.