'We have to intervene': Rustam Minnikhanov criticises the work of public and river transport

Tatarstan has announced the arrival of a new low-cost airline in the region, the introduction of a terminal in Begishevo and a ring road that will connect Kazan airport with train stations

'We have to intervene': Rustam Minnikhanov criticises the work of public and river transport
Photo: tatarstan.ru

Tatarstan Ministry of Transport and Roads has big plans for the year 2022 — new low-cost carrier Citrus is entering Kazan, which will begin flights in July, ring railway around the capital of Tatarstan will connect the airport with train stations, new bridge repair programme will start, new international terminal in Begishevo opens in August — it became known at the final board meeting of the department. At the same time, Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov criticised the work of public transport, which receives many complaints from citizens, and the poor condition of the river transport infrastructure and the vessels themselves.

Launch of Alnashi-Almetyevsk electric train

The industry as a whole showed steady work in 2021, said Minister of Transport and Road Management of Tatarstan Farit Khanifov. Its contribution to GRP in 2021 amounted to 6,1% (transportation and storage) and 1,9% (road construction), which is comparable to the figures of 2020. More than 67,000 people work in this sphere in the republic. According to Tatarstan Statistics, the average salary at land transport enterprises is 43,325 rubles, it has increased by 6,5% over the year. At road construction enterprises, the growth rate is 20%.

“There is no salary arrears," the minister noted.

An important event in the industry was last year's opening of the new educational campus and a hall of residence on the basis of the Mikhail Devyataev Institute of Marine and River Fleet — Kazan branch of the Volzhsk State University of Water Transport.

Further, Khanifov focused on the development of each type of transport.

The industry as a whole showed steady work in 2021, Farit Khanifov noted. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

Cities get new buses

The minister noted that the public transport fleet is being updated in the republic, new bus routes are being launched.

“For example, according to the national project 'Safe High-Quality Roads' in 2021, the Kazan agglomeration purchased 40 units of gas-fuelled buses. In August 2021, the executive committee of Naberezhnye Chelny purchased NEFAZ buses in the amount of 21 units. At the expense of the budget of the republic of Nizhnekamsk, in December 2021, 50 medium-class buses of the VECTOR NEXT brand were purchased worth 218 million rubles," the head of the department cited the data.

He noted that the programme of subsidising rural routes is to be extended this year, which will require more than 300 million rubles from the budget. More than 1,2 billion rubles have been allocated from the republic's budget to ensure equal accessibility of public transport services for certain categories of citizens, and subventions in the amount of 843,8 million rubles have been paid to 45 municipalities.

New programme — repair of bridges

The implementation of large road projects continues in Tatarstan. These are the M12 Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod-Kazan expressway, the southern bypass of Nizhnekamsk and Naberezhnye Chelny of the M-7 (Volga) highway, the Shali-Bavly highway on the Alekseevskoye-Almetyevsk section. All works are planned to be completed in 2024.

Implementation of large road projects continues in Tatarstan. Photo: tadviser.ru

Under the national project “Safe High-Quality Roads” (the regional project “Road Network”), work has been carried out in three large agglomerations to bring highways with a total length of 245,6 kilometres into normative state. Of these, 79,1 kilometres have been repaired in the Kazan agglomeration, the normative state of the road network is estimated at 84,5%, in Naberezhnye Chelny — 51,1 km has been repaired, the normative state is 81,3%, Nizhnekamsk — 10,1 km and 75,1%, respectively.

The situation is much worse with roads of regional significance. Their normative state reaches 48,4%, 105,3 kilometres have been repaired. In 2022, it is planned to upgrade more than 90 kilometres of such roads.

Under the national project “Safe High-Quality Roads” (the regional project “Road Network”), work has been carried out in three large agglomerations to bring highways with a total length of 245,6 kilometres into normative state. Photo: rosavtodor.gov.ru

To improve road safety, sidewalks will be equipped on 14 sections, artificial lighting will be installed on 46 sections, 30 kilometres of metal barriers will be installed, horizontal road markings will be applied on sections with a total length of 5,5 kilometres.

Farit Khanifov also announced a new programme, which starts this year — the reconstruction and overhaul of bridges. Within 3 years, more than 2,000 linear metres of bridges will be brought into standard condition, for which about 9 billion rubles have been allocated.

Digital future of the industry

The minister stressed that digital transformation is gaining momentum in the industry. For example, all public services provided by the ministry have been digitalised, 97% of public transport is equipped with the GLONASS system.

“Today, work is underway to develop the Unified Transport System Management Platform, which is designed to create a unified information space for the road transport complex of the republic; modelling situations to provide information technology support for traffic management processes, maintenance of highways, prevention and organisation of crisis situations; interaction with enterprises," he noted.

For example, all public services provided by the ministry have been digitalised, 97% of public transport is equipped with GLONASS system. Photo: gpsmcard.ru

Besides, there are six more initiatives of the Ministry of Transport of Russia, which are expected to be implemented by 2030. Among them, there are the commercial use of drones, the use of artificial intelligence technology to simulate traffic flows, monitoring and control of transport infrastructure facilities using digital twins, the introduction and development of public transport services, and others.

Opening of service sales centre

Vyacheslav Dmitriev, the head of the Kuibyshev Railway, said that this division of Russian Railways is a leader in the implementation of innovative projects. There are 94 of them, six of which are being implemented on the territory of Tatarstan. Dmitriev asked the president of the Republic of Tatarstan, who was present at the board meeting, to support the projects put forward for this year's competition in terms of co-financing.

Kuybyshev Railway transports 90% of cargo from the Republic of Tatarstan. The growth of the most promising container traffic in Tatarstan increased by 3,4 thousand tonnes last year. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the Kuybyshev Railway at the Krugloye Pole station opens a service sales centre in the building of the former railway station. The centre is designed, among other things, for small and medium-sized businesses and operates on the one-stop principle.

Vyasheslav Dmitriev asked the president of the Republic of Tatarstan to support the projects put forward for this year's competition in terms of co-financing. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

Here, at the collegium, a teleconference with Krugloye Pole was organised and the work of the centre was launched.

“The centre is open, we are waiting for your cargo!” Dmitriev said solemnly.

“There will be loads, definitely!” Rustam Minnikhanov echoed him.

Zone for testing unmanned vehicles

Rifkat Minnikhanov, the director of Road Safety state institution, raised the topic of creating a zone for testing unmanned vehicles. It has already been selected — this is the territory of Alabuga SEZ and the regional road Yelabuga-Gari-Abalach adjacent to it. The length of the route is more than 9 kilometres. Now the preparation of the technical task is underway, the calculation of its estimated cost. According to Minnikhanov, there was a preliminary agreement that the road would be built at the expense of the federal budget, but in fact — at the expense of the operator.

“But, unfortunately, there are no funds in the regional budget, they are not provided… I think it will cost more than 100 million," he said.

Rifkat Minnikhanov, for his part, promised to equip the pilot zone with traffic lights and line the route.

Rifkat Minnikhanov raised the topic of creating a zone for testing unmanned vehicles. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

New low-cost airline and changes at airports

Sergey Romantsov, the director general of Kazan International Airport, reported on the results of the activities of Tatarstan airports and shared plans for their development. He noted that the year 2021 was marked by a significant increase in passenger traffic: Kazan Airport served a record almost 3,9 million passengers (an increase of 78,5%), Begishevo — 654 thousand passengers (an increase of 50%). The main increase in passengers occurred on domestic flights, but passenger traffic on international flights is by 20% behind the pre-pandemic level.

Romantsov announced the arrival of the new low-cost airline Citrus in Kazan. Ticket sales are expected to begin in the spring, and the start of flights is scheduled for July this year.

“The strategy of this company is the development of air transportation, bypassing the Moscow aviation hub, both on domestic and international flights. Basing the new low-cost airline in Kazan will increase the level of air transport accessibility for the population of Tatarstan and the Volga regions, contributes to the expansion of the route network of the Kazan airport," he said.

Another good news is the return of a number of foreign airlines to their former routes. Negotiations are also underway with one of the Western companies about flights to Germany. All this will make it possible to pass the milestone of 4 million passengers this year.

Changes also await the airport terminal. Here, the baggage conveyor belt will be replaced with a modern analogue and the redevelopment of Terminal 1A will be carried out, which will increase the area of the waiting room. Also, the creation of a master plan for the development of Kazan Airport until 2050 is being at the final stage, which will allow us to start designing a new terminal and expanding the territory of the air harbour.

Romantsov announced the arrival of the new low-cost airline Citrus in Kazan. Ticket sales are expected to begin in the spring, and the start of flights is scheduled for July this year. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

The reconstruction of Begishevo Airport will also continue. To date, the fencing of the territory has been replaced, security equipment has been installed, and the patrol road has been reconstructed. The acceptance of works is to be in the second quarter of this year.

Now the construction of the new terminal for international lines is being completed there, finishing works are underway, and commissioning is scheduled for August. The configuration of the station square has been changed, the parking area has been increased, and the facade of the hotel has been updated. It is also planned to build a free parking lot in front of the entrance to the airport for 410 parking spaces at the expense of the budget of the Republic of Tatarstan.

“We are very concerned about the accident rate”

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, noting the important projects that the republic is implementing, dwelt on problematic issues. One of them is the accident rate on the roads. The head of Tatarstan is concerned that 3,684 road accidents occurred last year, in which 312 people died and 4,542 were injured.

“We are very, very concerned about January, we already have 31 dead in January. This, of course, imposes [responsibility] on the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the traffic police, municipalities, and, well, on the government. It is necessary to pay attention to this," Minnikhanov said.

He stressed that if systemic decisions are not taken, the republic risks not fitting into the accident rate.

Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, noting the important projects that the republic is implementing, dwelt on problematic issues. Photo: tatarstan.ru

The second sore point is the work of public transport. Minnikhanov noted that the indicators of its use by the population are falling across the country. The reason for this is the technical condition of the rolling stock, the undeveloped route network, and the tariff policy. Nizhnekamsk, Naberezhnye Chelny, Almetyevsk, Bugulma have faced such a problem.

“There is no systematic work in municipalities, and the ministry optionally deals with this issue. Probably, it will be difficult to improve the situation in public transport without some serious decisions. Let's look at this question in a different way. Taking into account that we will have the opportunity to attract budget investment loans. So far, there are a lot of complaints about public transport among the population.”

Another area of criticism was the state of river transport. The president noted that it is mainly used by those who have a low level of income — they get to the cottages on OMs and Meteors.

“We need to intervene. The internal network needs to be efficient. The berths are in a deplorable state, and the ships themselves are old. There are a lot of complaints about the service of the population on river transport to us. I fully accept these comments in my address," Minnikhanov concluded.

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Eleonora Rylova
Tatarstan