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The year under the new rules On August 2, 2015 was one year from the date of entry into force of the new rules for extending the service life of railway rolling stock. On the one hand, the introduction of a rather strict order in relation to the owners of cars has already led to a reduction in the number of car fleets on the Russian Railways network. On the other hand, the facts indicate that the implementation of procedures related to the modernization of old wagons is extremely slow. The discussion continues

Judging by the results of the first half of 2015, the number of the fleet on the Russian Railways network began to decline, and this trend has already demonstrated stability. It is noteworthy that the number of wagons on the carrier's infrastructure decreased, despite the fact that new rolling stock was produced and continued to arrive on the network. The Russian Railways Partner has already reported more about this. It is obvious that the current dynamics is a consequence of the new procedure for extending the service life of wagons that came into force a year ago, providing for mandatory modernization in accordance with the technical regulations of the Customs Union.

Nevertheless, discussions on this issue are currently not only continuing, but also remain acute. For example, the Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Maxim Sokolov in June stated that despite the adoption of all the necessary decisions, the different interests of representatives of the transport industry and car builders encourage the market to further discussion. The situation is perfectly illustrated by the recent appeal of entrepreneur Vladimir Lisin, the owner of the largest railcar operator in Russia – PGK JSC, to the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev with a proposal to return to a simplified procedure for extending the service life of freight cars. The effect is there! Today, the results of the changes made a year ago are evident.

"After several years of rapid development of car building and the introduction of new rules for extending the service life of rolling stock, the average age of a freight car in the Russian Federation has significantly decreased to about 15 years," M. Sokolov stated. "This indicator is one of the best in the world, as it significantly exceeds the 20–year threshold in both Europe and the USA." At the same time, the minister recalled that self-propelled vehicles, that is, cars, buses and ships, have no restrictions on service life anywhere in the world, only the service life of individual components, parts, engines, etc. is extended.

According to M. Sokolov, with regard to the Russian cargo transportation market, we are talking primarily about the economic efficiency of using old rolling stock. "It is very important to maintain a balance here," he explains. – That is, we will not burden our economy as a whole with additional costs for increased tariffs for the transportation or operation of freight cars, but at the same time we will fine those operators whose cars do not meet the necessary operational characteristics." Recall that as of January 1, 2015, the largest owners of freight cars in the Russian Federation are UCL Rail Holding (which includes PGK JSC), whose fleet is 193 thousand cars, FGK JSC with 163.6 thousand cars, Globaltrans Investment PLC and NefteTransErvice CJSC with 57.9 and 56.8 thousand units of rolling stock of the composition, respectively. Transoil LLC entered the top four leaders with 40.1 thousand cars. It should be noted that at the end of last year, the number of fleets of these operators changed in different ways: for example, PGK and CJSC NefteTransErvice reduced the number of cars by 3.7 and 3.8%, respectively, the remaining owners, on the contrary, increased it, with the highest growth rates of 6.4% demonstrated by Transoil, and Globaltrans Investment PLC and FGC Park grew by 4.7 and 1.1%, respectively. A dozen in a year? It is obvious that operator companies are in need of a working procedure for extending the service life of old rolling stock, and this primarily concerns PGK and FGK, whose fleets cannot boast of a young age. However, since the entry into force of the new technical regulations of the Customs Union, PGK took a year to modernize with the extension of the service life of the first 10 wagons. The gondola cars were upgraded at the Chelyabinsk wagon repair depot (a structural subdivision of JSC "VRK-2"), which was one of the first in the Russian Federation to receive a corresponding certificate valid for 5 years.

It is noteworthy that other major operators are in no hurry to share information about the number of cars repaired under the new rules. At the same time, not only PGK, but also other owners of rolling stock positively assessed the development of technical specifications for the modernization of gondola cars and the preparation of permits for extending the service life of tanks. The Russian Railways Partner also wrote about this earlier. It should be noted that the industrial certification should have been completed in March of this year. In particular, on March 6, technical conditions for extension with modernization for covered wagons and universal platforms were presented to JSC VNIIZHT for discussion by the operator community. Then the final date of certification of car repair enterprises was set for June 1 of this year.

However, not everyone has completed the necessary procedures. In more detail about how the preparation for certification was going on, the Russian Railways Partner wrote earlier. In search of a balance, Representatives of the carrier have repeatedly stated that in order to optimize the number of cars, the fleet should be reduced by at least 300 thousand units. Representatives of operators indicated that a certain surplus of the fleet should be maintained. So, Dmitry Korolev (until recently– the executive director of the SRO NP "SOZHT") reminded that there is seasonality in transportation, which, according to the estimates of the partnership, should be covered by a reserve of 50 thousand gondola cars.

 At the same time, it is worth separating the technological and commercial surplus. "If we recall the history, then in 2011 we had a situation when colleagues from Russian Railways said that we had a technological surplus, on the other hand, we all saw how rates were rising then, which indicated a commercial deficit," he explained. Irina Chiganashkina, Deputy General Director for Technical Development of CJSC RTX-Logistics, emphasizes that the concept of "surplus" is more concerned with universal rolling stock. "The highly specialized park has not been updated," she clarifies. – Its service life is still limited, there are no proposals, for example, for acid tanks." According to her, car builders can offer certified models, but certification and acceptance tests are quite expensive today. Vladimir Prokofiev, General Director of BaltTransService LLC, believes that it is necessary to determine a quota for car builders – and here the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Industry and Trade should have their say.

"Moreover, it makes sense to set a quota with distribution according to the nomenclature of wagons," he details. – In any case, I would forbid the construction of tank cars and gondola cars today." According to Yaroslav Mandron, Director of the Department of State Regulation of Tariffs, Infrastructure Reforms and Energy Efficiency of the Ministry of Economic Development, today the production of 30-40 thousand cars per year in the medium term is an objective ceiling. "However, it is necessary not to prohibit production, but to stimulate the car builder with soft economic instruments, and the beneficiary of these decisions should not be the Ministry of Industry and Trade, but the consumer," he explains. Of course, the current economic crisis has worsened the situation both in the car building market and in the car operating market.

Nevertheless, the effect of the introduction of new rules for extending their service life is obvious. At the same time, it is worth emphasizing that the implementation of procedures related to the modernization of the rolling stock that has served its time definitely needs to be accelerated.

Marina Ermolenko