President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Belozerov, I would like to begin by congratulating you and all Russian Railways staff on the anniversary.
Russian Railways is a backbone company for the national economy, if not one of the core companies in the country. It bears immense responsibility for the state of the Russian economy. This is not just an infrastructure monopoly, this is not simply a shipping company or a carrier, but a company that ensures that our economy runs smoothly. For this reason, its success is critical for the national economy to be able to succeed as well.
It is especially gratifying, as I have already pointed out on a number of occasions, that you have been able to run the company in such a way so as to be able to constantly improve productivity at a reasonable pace in tune with the needs of the company and the national economy. In fact, productivity has been outpacing pay raises, which is an extremely important and laudable result, if I may say so, and it sets a positive example for other sectors.
Congratulations once again, and a big thank you to all the railway workers of Russia.
Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer – Chairman of the Executive Board Oleg Belozerov: Thank you very much.
Mr President, on behalf of the one-million-strong staff of Russian Railways holding I would like to thank you for your congratulations and for your attention to our work and your unwavering support.
Russian Railways have gone a long way since the Ministry of Railways was transformed into a company. It has become a tradition for us to report on our achievements as we celebrate anniversaries.
I have regularly reported to you on our record freight turnover figures in the new history of the Russian Federation, but there was one absolute record reached back in the Soviet Union we still could not beat. This year, our team has set a new absolute record – a freight turnover higher than in the Soviet Union. At the same time, Russian Railways is also a leader in energy efficiency and environmental protection.
Vladimir Putin: And safety.
Oleg Belozerov: And safety, among railway carriers in the world. We try our very best to create a comfortable environment for shippers, and, most importantly, for our passengers.
Another record, albeit smaller, will be set this year, as according to our plan, we will transport 1.13 billion people. This is the highest figure if we look at the past ten years. Moreover, if we consider it this way, in ten years, every citizen of Russia used the railways more than 100 times – this is for comparison.
Furthermore, passenger turnover is on the rise this year. Passengers see that we are trying to improve our services in all spheres. We also have double digits in our results – the Daily Express programme, more than 20 percent growth. Transportation in the double deckers we recently presented went up more than 40 percent this year. Long distance passenger traffic grew by more than 8 percent. This means passengers are willing to use the railway services, although there are other types of transport; they make their choice in favour of the comfort and coziness created by our company.
Accordingly, we improved all components of the system, including the railway stations. We renovated some stations as part of preparations for the World Cup. We also made an effort to ensure they remain part of the local urban cultural environment, as was planned historically more than 100 years ago. This year, more than 400 social events were held at railway stations. Moreover, the Moscow Central Circle, our key joint project with the Moscow government I reported, has also set a record: more than 460,000 people per day. This record was set just a few days ago.
Figures are figures, but, most importantly, we work for the passengers and therefore their feedback is important. We began canvassing passenger response in 2016 with the VTsIOM public opinion centre, and I can say that passengers give us four points out of five. But we would like to get full marks. For that, we allocate funds within our programmes, primarily for the improvement of the rolling stock, which is a priority. We do have railway platforms that have not been repaired for more than 30 years, something we also want to improve.
The second component that I mentioned earlier on, is that cargo transportation is also on the rise this year, with tariff freight turnover adding 4.4 percent, and freight handling up by almost 3 percent.
The Russian ports are doing well, too. Several figures reflect this. The situation in transit shipping, which you constantly focus on, is as follows: container traffic has grown 2.5 times since 2004, and export shipments at the Russian ports are up 1.8 times.
All other indicators are also up. We are fully aware of the fact that we are a monopoly and must monitor our costs. This year, we cut our production costs by 44 billion, and will keep focusing on this.
We support both small- and medium-sized businesses and went from 254 positions to almost 17,000 positions with the participation of small- and medium-sized businesses this year alone. We find this interesting, and our colleagues are helping us create a new railway.
At the same time, as you already pointed out, human capital, our people are our most valuable asset. This year, productivity is up by over 6 percent. The collective agreement is our main document, and we follow it to a tee. We adjust wages on an almost regular basis. This year, pay packages have increased by over 10 percent compared to 2017.
Other provisions of the collective agreement are strictly complied with as well. This includes the housing policy where we help our workers buy flats; recreation and healthcare, and also children: we are building children’s railways and open quantoriums. We understand that this will pay back in the future when the children grow up and come to work with the railways.
I covered our problems. We understand that, as you said, we must upgrade passenger carriages as soon as possible. They are already 20 years old, whereas we need them to be no more than between 10 to 12 years old at the most. Each year, we receive upgraded rolling stock.
Vladimir Putin: The decisions aimed at upgrading the rolling stock have been adopted by the Government. I hope this will be realised in full.
Oleg Belozerov: Yes, Mr President, everything has been done in accordance with your instructions. The main plan has been developed, and the company will achieve all its goals.
Vladimir Putin: Good.