The meeting continues a series of consultations on carrying out big infrastructure projects. Meetings on developing Moscow’s aviation hub, modernising the Trans-Siberian Railway, and building a high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan took place in July.
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Opening remarks at a meeting on projects to develop Moscow and Moscow Region’s transport infrastructure
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We have had several meetings now on carrying out big infrastructure projects. We held three such meetings: on modernising and expanding the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian railways, on a high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan, and on developing Moscow’s aviation hub. Today, we will discuss the key projects to develop transport infrastructure in Moscow and Moscow Region.
This is a crucial issue for people in Moscow and the Moscow Region. Over time, the capital and its surrounding region have come to be the centre for the country’s main passenger and freight flows. Of course, this means that the state of Russia’s entire transport system in general depends in large part on how competently and effectively the system works here in central Russia.
The federal and regional authorities have given this matter a lot of attention over recent years, and we already have some substantial results: Moscow’s metro system continues to develop steadily, at a good if not record pace; the capital’s railways stations are being modernised and the suburban rail network is developing; the airports are being modernised too, and interchanges and outgoing motorways are being built. Overall, public transport is getting a lot of attention.
Developing the Moscow and Moscow Region’s transport infrastructure is a big priority for the city and regional authorities and for the federal authorities too. It is only right that this be a priority, considering the questions people have in this regard. We all know how important this issue is for the region’s residents, and not just for people who live here, but also for those who come here on business or for their family affairs. This is one of the region’s most pressing problems.
”The state of Russia’s entire transport system in general depends in large part on how competently and effectively the system works in central Russia.“
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin and Moscow Region Governor Andrei Vorobyov are both taking part in today’s meeting. I would like to hear from them today on how they are organising work at the regional level and how work with the federal authorities is going, as they see it, and also with their colleagues in the neighbouring regions.
I stress the point that resolving the central region’s transport problems requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach. There is no other way to organise effective work in this part of the country. We need full coordination between the regions, federal support, and broad use of public-private partnership mechanisms.
Of course, all of our initiatives must be balanced against our budget possibilities and backed by the necessary financial resources at federal and regional level. Only then will we be able to achieve any radical improvement.
As I said, we are working hard and have already accomplished a lot. We know, however, that people’s sense of social wellbeing is the main criterion in issues of this kind, and, as we all know, the situation here is still far from ideal. The main task that I want you to concentrate on is effective integration of the different types of transport: continuing to develop the road network and expanding its throughput capacity, including by building new links along the most difficult sections.
As I discussed before with Mr Sobyanin and Mr Vorobyov, the suburban rail network is developing, but the traffic volumes building up at railway crossings are increasing all the time too. I will say more on this later, but I wanted to bring to your attention now that this issue is becoming more and more urgent.
As for roads, this is the most sensitive issue of all. People are right in complaining about road transport congestion levels in Moscow and the Moscow Region. The MKAD today is not so much a city motorway as essentially the only possible transit route for a huge number of trucks heading in all directions in and out of Moscow.
The Central Ring Road was proposed as a project that would ease congestion on the MKAD and enable part of the traffic flows to bypass Moscow. By 2018, this Central Ring Road should be a modern, convenient transport highway and an important link in the interregional network and the international transport corridors. It has to meet the needs of business and ordinary people alike.
”Resolving the central region’s transport problems requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach. We need full coordination between the regions, federal support, and broad use of public-private partnership mechanisms.“
You will recall that at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum I listed construction of the Central Ring Road among the three key projects that could be financed with money from the National Welfare Fund. Let me add that work on the project for the road’s construction is already at an advanced stage, and state [road-building] company Avtodor’s development programme has already earmarked substantial resources for this project.
I want us to discuss the concrete issues today and look at the specific mechanisms for state and private participation in this big project. We will also discuss the instruments that will need to be in place for us to be able to use money from the National Welfare Fund.
Organising land purchase will require particular attention. I spoke about this issue with regard to construction of the high-speed rail link between Moscow and Kazan, and I repeat this point as it applies to land purchase for the future highway that we are set to discuss today.
Tough action will be needed to prevent any speculation, corruption schemes, attempts to inflate cost estimates, or make speculative gains through reselling land. We need to minimise the project’s cost risks. I hope for the Moscow city authorities’ active help in this area. Mr Sobyanin, your active involvement is needed here, as is yours too, Mr Vorobyov.
The plan is to build the road in sections, in order to speed up the project planning work and organising the land allocation. It is also easier to get investors to agree to take part in individual sections than in a whole costly project all at once.
Of course, each section will have its own length, its own investors, specific conditions, and its own economy. To make the project an overall success and ensure it gives investors and the budget the returns they seek, we need a carefully planned timetable for launching the individual sections, taking into account current and forecast demand on the key traffic flow routes.
We also need to ensure timely work to link the federal and regional road networks to the new road. I hope the Transport Ministry will keep this need in mind and plan its work accordingly. I hope too that Avtodor and the regional authorities will show full understanding on all of these matters.
Of course, we also need to calculate thoroughly a fair price for using the new road. It should be a price that ordinary people can afford, and that will not be a burden on business. I ask you to study these matters carefully and take them into account in your continuing work.
”By 2018, this Central Ring Road should be a modern, convenient transport highway and an important link in the interregional network and the international transport corridors. It has to meet the needs of business and ordinary people alike.“
Of course, we must not forget the need to develop suburban rail transport in the Moscow Region. This is a big component in the overall problem, and it has a big social dimension what’s more. This issue directly or indirectly concerns more than a quarter of our country’s population.
Just think about the scale here – more than a quarter of the country’s entire population. A very broad section of the population uses electric commuter trains, above all working people, students, and pensioners. For the most part, these are people with low or middle incomes. We therefore need to ensure stable and predictable costs for suburban rail travel.
In this connection I ask the Government to make the project to develop Moscow suburban rail transport a priority over the next 5–6 years. This will be one of the biggest projects of its kind underway in the world.
This will require construction of main and additional suburban rail links. I know that Moscow Region, Moscow and Russian Railways are actively working on this matter, the lines are being built and the relevant projects exist. You must not under any circumstances neglect this work. Progress is needed in this area.
This will enable us to considerably increase passenger flows from the current 600 million a year, already a huge figure, to 900 million people a year, almost 1 billion. This is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the world today and it will make life and travel a lot more convenient for people.
As I said, we also need to build a modern network of links that will avoid having traffic build up at interchange points or creating traffic jams at rail crossings as traffic intensity increases.
There is no question that we must keep subsidies in place. We have already talked about this a lot, I know. We introduced these subsidies three, even four years ago, and started allocating 25 billion [rubles]. I think the first allocations were made during the crisis. We agreed that gradually this would be transferred to the regional level, but for this to happen we first need to be sure that the regions have the necessary funds, and we also need to have clear evidence that these funds are used as intended.
I know that the Finance Ministry plans to carry out this work in stages. We have the money for next year. But then will come 2015 and 2016 and we need to take a careful look at how to proceed. If you simply want to transfer part of the subsidies to the regions and not to Russian Railways, this is one possible option of course, but we would need to be certain that the money will be spent on these specific purposes and not on any other important undertakings. I ask you to pay very careful attention to this matter. This is a very important economic and social issue after all.
Let’s start work.