Experts on Russia Railways’ idea of launching low-cost wagons: “I don’t think there will be demand for dilapidated trains”

The railway carrier’s project with accessible tickets can appear in Russia from 2020

Experts on Russia Railways’ idea of launching low-cost wagons: “I don’t think there will be demand for dilapidated trains” Photo: Marat Gaifullin

A year ago, Russian Railways' subsidiary Federal Passenger Company announced its intention to launch so-called low-cost wagons in Russia. It is a new Economy Budget class service for which old wagons that haven’t yet been junked will be given. Realnoe Vremya found out if the subsidiary of Russian Railways hadn’t changed its mind to launch this project, learnt about what phase it was and if, in experts’ opinion, it would be popular among passengers.

“The project is preparing to be implemented next year”

Last August, the Russian mass media spread the new, which was pleasant for many: the first low-cost wagons would appear in Russia. A subsidiary of Russian Railways the Federal Passenger Company is the initiator. In fact, it turned out that this initiative wasn’t that tempting.

As Realnoe Vremya was explained in the press service of the FPC, the company plans to introduce the new Economy Budget class for which old third-class wagons will be used before they are junked. It is noted that they won’t have composting toilets and air conditioning, however, a corresponding ticket price will be fixed. It is planned to use low-cost wagons both in current trains with a discount tariff and for a separate carrier.

If a person is on a tight budget, he purchased Economy Budget and knows from the very beginning that it will be a wagon built quite a long time ago and relatively equipped. Photo: Marat Gaifullin

“Indeed, we had such plans, but the project hasn’t been implemented yet. It is preparing to be implemented next year,” the press service of the FPC told our newspaper.

“Now everything comes down to information support, resetting the main computer centre. The website with a ticket selling engine is likely to change a bit. The case is that now service classes vary depending on the type of wagon, while we want to have other names. In other words, now we have wagons have Suite, First Class, Third Class and Seated Cars. Nothing will change, only the names will be different: Business, Comfort, Economy and Economy Budget.

In fact, we will get a train set with wagons built in different years and with different comfort levels. If a person is on a tight budget, he purchased Economy Budget and knows from the very beginning that it will be a wagon built quite a long time ago and relatively equipped.”

Realnoe Vremya’s interlocutor from the press service of the FPC also said that the company signed an agreement equal to 237 billion rubles with Tver Carriage Works, which comes under Transmashholding, in February. According to the agreement, 3,731 new wagons will be purchased until 2025.

“525 wagons have already been delivered. About 600 new wagons on average will be put into operation from 2019 during those years. Moreover, the wagons that exhausted themselves will be removed from the fleet,” the press service said.

“Nowadays this is quite topical”

At Realnoe Vremya’s request, experts assessed the idea of the FPC of introducing the new Economy Budget class. So Vice President of the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) Ilya Umansky thinks that the initiative can really find its consumer.

“Against the backdrop of not a high well-being level, people are actively using any ways to save money, including economising on holidays. It is seen both in search of quite cheap accommodation and transport. If we are talking about plane tickets, many are ready to sacrifice their time choosing not very comfortable flights with connections. Low-cost airlines are also popular, which restrict the passenger’s comfort but fix a good price,” Umansky comments. “Summing all the mentioned up, I come to the conclusion that different cheap wagon options will be also in demand. In my opinion, nowadays this is quite topical. But one should keep in mind that the service can be simplified as much as possible, but safety must certainly be a priority.”

President of the Association of Tour Agencies of the Republic of Tatarstan Ramil Miftakov has the opposite position.

“Nowadays Third Class, Comfort Third Class and, for instance, two-storey train have quite a low price. This is why I don’t think there will be demand for dilapidated trains with 500-600 rubles of difference,” the expert thinks. “It is better to make seated cars for short trips, which last for 4-5 hours. Plus the wagon will accommodate more people. In this case, good prices can be fixed.”
By Lina Sarimova