The Co-Chairman of the OPPOSITION BLOC, Prime Minister of the Opposition Government, Borys Kolesnikov, said this at a round table on reforming the railway industry of Ukraine organized by his Foundation.
Borys Kolesnikov commented on the National Transport Strategy “Drive Ukraine 2030”, approved by the government, regarding the development of rail transport. According to him, it has a number of shortcomings.
“The strategy involves a 100% replacement of the locomotive and wagon fleet. But over the past four years, Ukraine has not bought a single intercity train, and it is unclear what will happen in 11,5 years. But the most incomprehensible is the average speed of travel by rail at 150 km/h. If we build new railways, then the speed will be 250 km/h. If we reconstruct the ones that are, then the speed will be 90 km/h. That is it is unclear where this figure is taken from. New Euro routes Kyiv-Odesa, Kyiv-Lviv, Kyiv-Kharkiv, Kyiv-Dnipro – all this together will be about 2000 km. 1000 km of roads cost 19 billion euros for Spain. If in Ukraine it is $15 million for 1 km of roads, then $30 billion will cost for 2000 km. However, this is financially and technically impossible,” the opposition premier underlined.
“Regarding the state of the infrastructure, unfortunately, it is deplorable. Suffice it to say that more than half of the contact networks are worn out, a third of backbone networks are with overdue overhauls, traction substations are worn out by 2/3, and railway equipment – by 80%. That is, this is scrap metal,” the politician said.
He noted that the fall in freight rail traffic was simply catastrophic. “At one time we aspired to 500 million tons, which made it possible to have high profitability and increase revenues to $10 billion, which was quite a decent amount for Ukrzaliznytsya. Unfortunately, to date, one third of the traffic has been lost, and we will continue to lose, because transit is absent. The foreign policy of the state, as well as the tariff policy are such that transit companies will bypass Ukraine. As a result, we have losses both on the railway and in ports that are under-loaded. The Ukrainian authorities are begging for the transit of gas, but what way does the transit of gas differ from the railroad transit of oil?” Borys Kolesnikov emphasized.
“In view of biased and non-transparent tariffs, the shipper passes to the roads. But due to overloading with freight transport, they turn into a mash,” the Co-Chairman of the OPPOSITION BLOC stressed.
“In the near future, the deterioration of the wagon fleet will become even more catastrophic. The thrust will have about the same state,” the opposition prime minister underscored.
He stressed that it was necessary to complete the electrification of the railways. “To date, 11,000 kilometers of railways have been electrified. It is enough to electrify another 4-5 thousand km to completely abandon the imported fuel and use Ukrainian electricity. It would be a double success,” Borys Kolesnikov said.
Speaking about ways to improve the situation, the politician noted that the railway must be completely structured, but for this, it is not necessary to wait 12 years. “The state monopoly on the railway track and the contact network must be transformed into a state corporation, where at least 2/3 of the share capital must belong to the state. This will make the revenues of the railway transparent and will protect against speculation in freight and passenger transportation,” he stressed.
In his opinion, the station buildings must be transferred to the ownership of local councils. “There are many foreign examples, when the core of the passenger hub is being formed on the basis of the railway station. Railway stations must belong to Ukrzaliznytsya, and the station buildings should become the property of local councils,” the opposition prime minister said.
Borys Kolesnikov emphasized that traction companies must be private – this will ensure fair competition. “Tomorrow is a privately owned traction. The issue is how to approach this. It is necessary to do this in such a way that dispatching is good enough for everyone, and investors come with new locomotives,” the Co-Chairman of the OPPOSITION BLOC said.
The politician noted that passenger transportation must be carried out at full cost. “That is, the passenger gets a ticket, and the Ministry of Social Policy pays or compensates this ticket for the privileged categories of citizens. Then it is possible to safely attract investors to passenger transportation by organizing an assembly of high-speed trains in Ukraine. There is no other way,” he stressed.
“Railway track and contact network are a state monopoly, but they should be managed by the corporation. Freight cars should be private, and “Ukrzaliznytsya” can have a reserve of about 5 thousand cars for fast “patching holes”. The stations must belong to city authorities. Tickets to privileged categories of citizens must be paid by the Ministry of Social Policy. In case of carrying out all these measures, for 5 years it is possible to achieve qualitative changes for shippers in speed and quality of cargo delivery, and for passengers – in the increase of comfort to the level of Central or even Western Europe”, Borys Kolesnikov concluded.