President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Sokolov, the summer peak period is over now and was a success in general. I would like to hear your assessment though, your view on the different transport sectors’ work.
My second question regards the decisions on preferential conditions for particular groups of the population, by age or by other criteria, on specific routes or in particular regions. I want to get an idea of the future steps needed to ensure that these mechanisms will work with maximum result.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov: Mr President, despite the current economic difficulties, the Transport Ministry and the Government have concentrated the resources needed for developing population mobility and ensuring that people have access to good quality and affordable transport options of the proper standard on all forms of transport. Thanks to the efforts made, over the last 8 months, and especially over the summer holiday season, we saw an increase in mobility and an increase in traffic in all transport sectors.
Domestic air traffic was up by 7 percent for the country as a whole and came to 33 million passengers over the last 8 months. The five support programmes for different types of regional air transport, including transport from the Far East and Siberian regions, have contributed to this increase. This programme has been working for several years now. We expect two airports to pass the 5-million mark with this season’s results – the airports at Simferopol and Sochi. This is a good result.
In rail transport, we have also seen an increase in passenger traffic. This is a turnaround – the first such increase in many years. Over these last 8 months, more than 71 million people travelled by railway. This is almost 4.5 percent more than in 2015.
The increases were biggest on the routes south to the resort areas in the Azov and Black sea region, up by around 16 percent – around 6 million people – on the 2015 figure.
The subsidisation programme we introduced this year has also played a part here. Tickets for children aged 10–17 were sold at a 50-percent discount over the summer holiday period, which helped to increase transport of this category of passengers by 16 percent also. A total 2.5 million children were transported using these subsidised tickets during the summer holiday season this year.
Sea transport has also posted increases, with passenger traffic up by 11 percent. The Kerch ferry link across the Kerch Strait has been particular important in this sector. The figures were up by around 25 percent here and the figures were even higher for some months. The Kerch ferry link is currently the main transport option providing access to the Crimean Peninsula.
Vladimir Putin: Is the ferry link coping with the traffic?
Maxim Sokolov: Yes, it’s coping. What’s more, on the peak traffic days in mid-August the ferries carried around 60,000 people and around 17,000 cars a day. In other words, the resources are sufficient as far as the ferry fleet and relevant infrastructure are concerned.
Vladimir Putin: How many ferries are working the route?
Maxim Sokolov: Eight ferries are currently working on the route. There are two others in reserve; they are currently undergoing scheduled maintenance. This is as regards passenger traffic. We have another three ferries that carry freight vehicles only. This makes for a quite solid fleet. I can tell you that nowhere else in the world is there such intensity of ferry traffic as here. This is a flagship link and is not only the best example in this sector here in Russia, but is unique in the world in terms of traffic volumes and quality of service.
We have seen an increase on the internal waterways too, with 10 million passengers using these services this year.
By the way, as far as the ferry link goes, we have a convenient service for passengers, who arrive by train, then change over to a bus and then the ferry. We offer a comprehensive single ticket for this service, which runs to seven destinations on the Crimean coast. This service is also subsidised by the Russian budget. Here, we have growth of 15 percent and we now have 400,000 who have used this multimodal transport option.
Overall, we have an increase on all routes and for all transport sectors, and this is good, of course, for the attractiveness of our regions and resort areas as holiday destinations, and not just on the Black Sea coast but in other places too, such as Lake Baikal, the Far East, Altai, and the Caucasus spa towns.
I hope that the 2017 budget will continue to offer these support measures so that we can build on this trend and continue developing our country’s passenger traffic.
Vladimir Putin: Good.