ON RUSSIAN RAILWAYS’ INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
Vladimir Yakunin: Concerning international cooperation, we have also undertaken some serious steps to harmonise our relations with Western railway companies because, as you know, the European Union is carrying out work to unite the entire transport system. We have worked out that we need to reach agreements on harmonising transport law and on harmonising standards. We have the support of our Western colleagues on this. We have also carried out considerable work and have obtained the support of the railways operators in the CIS countries. The first meeting of the Council for Rail Transport, which I preside, took place in Ashkhabad and our colleagues gave it a positive evaluation. Agreements were reached and subsequently adopted at state level on the possibility of opening up railway through traffic via Abkhazia. We are now continuing work on this issue. On January 19 we are to meet with the heads of the Georgian and Armenian railway companies. This is a preliminary meeting in order to examine the issue once again. We will, of course, inform our colleagues in Abkhazia immediately about the proposals that emerge so as to then move to the next step of having all four sides meet to work on setting up the business organisations that could take on this work.
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Vladimir Putin: Yesterday, as you know, I met with the Federal Chancellor of Germany. She had some questions regarding the implementation of earlier cooperation agreements concluded with our German partners. How is this situation developing?
Vladimir Yakunin: I met recently with Mr Medorn, the head of Deutsche Bahn, and we agreed to examine a project to create a joint logistics company. The German railway company is a long way ahead of us in this area and I think that we could benefit from their experience. We have held important talks with Siemens about optimising the agreements that have already been concluded between our two companies and that were signed in your presence. We have successfully settled the misunderstanding that had arisen with regard to these agreements.
Vladimir Putin: There was a misunderstanding?
Vladimir Yakunin: There was a misunderstanding between us and Siemens, arising from the fact that, unlike many Western railway companies, Russian Railways is not yet ready to launch high-speed rail traffic on a mass scale. This is linked to the length of our network and to the particular climate conditions we face. We studied all these aspects and signed a protocol with Siemens that completely satisfies our German colleagues and that we are also happy with. We have managed to lower significantly the cost of each train in the design that we had agreed on, and we also agreed that cooperation in production of rolling stock is not the only area of cooperation between Russian Railways and Siemens. I think therefore that today there are no circumstances that could dampen relations between Russian Railways and our German partners.