New government setup is supposed to enhance Russian rail

Image: ANP/SIPA USA. Kommersant Photo Agency

Russia is shuffling its government leadership for the transport sector in order to streamline the development of the country’s transport and logistics. Alongside the traditional transport minister, Russia will now also have former transport minister Vitaly Savelyev as the new deputy Prime Minister for Transport. The two will prioritise the development of the “Eastern Polygon” and international rail corridors.

After Vladimir Putin’s inauguration marking the start of his fifth term in office, the Russian president made a series of notable changes in his cabinet. Among the changes is the creation of the position of deputy Prime Minister for Transport. Vitaly Savelyev, previously serving the government as transport minister, has taken up the newly coined position. Roman Starovoyt has become the new Minister of Transport.

A government official commented on the new development, saying that “previously, several deputy prime ministers divided the responsibilities of transport development among themselves, which somewhat hampered the speed of decision-making, but now the lightning speed of their adoption is key.”

Transport minister Roman Starovoyt and new deputy PM for transport Vitaly Savelyev. Image: ANP/SIPA USA/Kommersant Photo Agency.

Growing importance of logistics

An expert from Finam Management, a Russian investing company, said that “the introduction of such a position is associated with the increasing importance of transport and logistics in the country’s economy, and the need to strengthen their interaction with other sectors of the economy.”

The president of Russia’s National Centre for Freight and Infrastructure pointed out that the “new power vertical, the deputy Prime Minister for Transport and the Minister of Transport, should reassert the development of the transport sector”.

Priorities for rail freight

Russian media identified priority policy areas for rail freight. Firstly, the two cabinet members for transport will be focusing on the development of the so-called “Eastern Polygon”, which includes the vital Baikar-Amur line and the Trans-Siberian line that facilitate freight transportation to and from China.

“The start of the third stage of modernization of the Eastern training ground is a historic decision. With the development of the transport industry, we set the tone for the development of our industry”, deputy Prime Minister for Transport Vitaly Savelyev commented.

Secondly, Russian media write that the two transport officials will continue to prioritise the development of international corridors. While they make no mention of any corridor in particular, in the case of rail freight it most likely concerns the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC).

This corridor aims to provide a rail connection between Russia and the Iranian Persian Gulf ports. It allows Russia to diversify its logistical routes and to avoid markets monitored by the West as it attempts to evade sanctions.

Additionally, Russia has expressed interest in a rail corridor through Central Asia and Afghanistan that would also link up to ports at the shores of the Indian Ocean.

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Author: Dennis van der Laan

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New government setup is supposed to enhance Russian rail |