Abandoned by Siemens: Russian railways are painfully looking for rolling stock

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Abandoned by Siemens: Russian railways are painfully looking for rolling stock
Abandoned by Siemens: Russian railways are painfully looking for rolling stock
25 May, 16:45Photo: zen.yandex.ru
Today, when airports in the south are closed and there are big problems with servicing foreign aircraft, rail transport is becoming the main one for millions of Russians. But the sanctions hit everyone. We figure out what will happen to trains in Russia and what we will have to travel on.

Victoria Pavlova

Demand for train tickets is growing by leaps and bounds. Already in early May, Crimea realized that the region lacked more than 100 railway cars to transport tourists in the summer. Despite the fact that the tourist flow to the republic during the May holidays, even according to official data , decreased by 36% compared to last year's beginning of the season. This time, 60% more tourists came by train. The Alliance of Travel Agencies (ATA) warns that the family cannot take a coupe for the next 40-50 days - only single scattered places remain.

The Oktyabrskaya railway from Moscow to St. Petersburg also does not experience a shortage of passengers: from June 1, after a year of inactivity, the Nevsky Express will again run with cars made in 2001 and the Czechoslovak electric locomotive ChS200, which was produced in 1974 and 1979. Thank you for not returning steam locomotives... But a big problem arose with high-speed modern trains in Russia - the train manufacturer Siemens and the maintenance company Siemens Mobility terminated all existing contracts with Russian Railways and left Russia.

In the USSR, there were interesting projects of high-speed rail transport, for example, a high-speed car with turbojet engines from the Yak-40 aircraft, which in 1972 accelerated to 250 km / h. But then the ER200 train appeared, which was produced in two copies, and the ChS200 electric locomotive, which was produced in the amount of 12 copies. This is where it all ended. It is not difficult to guess that by the beginning of the 21st century there were no modern developments left of our own.

Everything rested on Siemens

Emptiness in this vacuum was occupied by Siemens. Of course, there were other foreign trains as well. For example, Swifts (Spanish Talgo) have been linking Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod since 2015. And the Italian "Allegro" went from St. Petersburg to Helsinki. But these were isolated routes. It was Siemens trains that became massive. Peregrine Falcons are Siemens Velaros shipped directly from Germany, and Lastochkas are Siemens Desiros localized in Verkhnyaya Pyshma. And no alternatives. Future trains for the new high-speed line from Moscow to St. Petersburg also had to be developed by Siemens and assembled at the facilities of Ural Locomotives, a joint venture between Siemens and the Sinara group of Dmitry Pumpyansky. The assembly of two-story "Swallows" was also being prepared there. Moreover, Ural Locomotives is a major manufacturer of electric freight locomotives. 24 electric locomotives 2ES7 "Black Granite" with Siemens equipment have already been produced. The plan for 2022 is to build 22 more of these locomotives. The German company also designed and supplied electrical equipment (traction inverters and electric motors) for 2ES10 Granit electric freight locomotives, of which 635 units were produced as of July 2021. Siemens is everywhere.

Of course, it's great that the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg handed over to Russian Railways for storage and use the equipment, tools and spare parts owned by Siemens Mobility GmbH (Siemens Mobility LLC) necessary for the repair of Sapsan and Lastochka. But the influence of the German holding on Russian railways was much greater.

A destructive monopoly

Exactly how Siemens got a virtual monopoly in Russia on the production of modern high-speed trains, and why Russian Railways did not seek to diversify - history is still silent. But in 2007, Siemens Russia was convicted of corruption by the World Bank: bribes worth $3 million were paid for the implementation of transport projects. The fact of corrupt transactions was recorded by the Munich Court. And just in 2007, the Sapsan and Lastochka projects were launched. However, scandals with bribes and $1.6 billion in fines in Europe and the United States did not affect the position of officials in Russia and the implementation of projects. Siemens received a contract for 240 Lastochkas for 2.2 billion euros, for the supply of 8 Sapsan with a 30-year service for 630 million dollars, signed a memorandum with Russian Railways on the modernization of 63 marshalling yards.

It turned out that in Russia, in order to calmly continue work and save billions of dollars in contracts, it is enough 3 years after the scandal to sign a memorandum on combating corruption and to undertake the obligation not to give bribes in our country ...

Aleksey Tuzov , an independent transport industry expert, points out that it's not just about corruption. If Siemens was ready to localize production in Russia, then Chinese companies considered only the supply of the finished product:

- Initially, a German manufacturer of high-speed trains was chosen to start work on the production of Sapsan, despite the fact that Asian contractors also claimed to participate in the development of high-speed rail transport in Russia. One of the world's largest factories for the production of high-speed trains from China has been interested in partnership in the creation of a high-speed railway in the Russian Federation for several years, and now there is an opportunity to involve it in the creation of a new innovative transport. However, the partnership with China implies that technology, building materials and even workers will be provided by the PRC, at a time when Russia expects to produce high-speed trains with its own resources.

Unpromising localization

Lastochkas produced at Ural Locomotives, according to the plant, have a localization rate of more than 88%. But in addition to the Siemens equipment produced in Russia, the fate of which is in doubt, even the aluminum sidewalls of the cars are imported - they come from China. Statements about the level of localization should be treated with a fair amount of skepticism, says Alexander Polikarpov, managing partner of Rollingstock Agency:

- The level of product localization strongly depends on the method of its evaluation. Currently, the development of a unified methodology for railway equipment is still ongoing.

There is an urgent need for imported components, but experts note that obtaining the necessary train parts is not a trivial task. On the one hand, the situation with the ban on the supply of spare parts for trains is not as bad as with the supply of aircraft parts, says the head of the Union of Passengers, Kirill Yankov:

- There are a little more chances to get spare parts somewhere, because for aircraft any spare part is strictly traceable from and to. And no one will produce a gray spare part. In aviation, there are conventions that regulate this very strictly, and you will not fly out with a “left” spare part. And if you fly out, the dispatcher in the next country will land you and will not give you permission to fly. There is no such international regulatory framework for trains. And this gives chances that someone will be able to supply us with some spare parts.

But, on the other hand, in each country the operating conditions are unique, and trains are also different everywhere - adds Alexander Polikarpov , which means that part of the trains will have to be disassembled for spare parts:

- Railway rolling stock for each country is unique due to different climatic conditions, technical regulation features and infrastructure technical equipment, therefore there are no “marketplaces” with components even for the most common platforms (for example, like Velaro - on the basis of which Sapsan was created). Most likely, the supply of spare parts will be arranged with the help of Asian suppliers and using the parallel import mechanism, but it will take time to homologate products to Russian conditions. For the period of readjustment of the maintenance process and the establishment of supply chains for spare parts, part of the trains can be put aside from traffic and used to complete the operating fleet.

Kirill Yankov explains that even the desire of the Chinese to sell parts to Russia does not guarantee their delivery:

- The possibility of deliveries depends on what is written in the license agreements that Siemens has concluded with the Chinese manufacturer of spare parts for Siemens Velaro, and whether there is a ban on the supply of these spare parts to third countries without the consent of Siemens or not. No one knows this, because no one in Russia has read this contract, and, most likely, it is a trade secret. I know that some negotiations on this subject are underway. I cannot predict their results. One thing is clear - that China is unlikely to clearly violate agreements with Siemens for the sake of supplying spare parts to Russia, this is already evident from other signs .

Russian models at a price of 100 thousand for a one-way ticket

Russia cannot do without its own production at all. Some new items are still emerging. For example, starting from June, luxury carriages with bathrooms with each compartment and tickets for 100,000 rubles one way will start running to Simferopol. However, these wagons were taken from a tourist train that used to travel through Russia, Iran, Mongolia, the Baltic states and Finland. And Tver Carriage Works presented a new double-decker dining car. But even the newest double-decker models are structurally designed for a top speed of 160 km/h. The actual one is much lower. Therefore, 1.5 days on the road from Moscow to the Black Sea coast is a harsh inevitable reality.

TVZ also produces Ivolga electric trains, which are used on Moscow diameters. Outwardly, they look quite modern - maybe they will become a replacement for at least similar "Swallows"? Evgeny Afanasiev , Senior Project Manager, Valuation and Financial Consulting, SRG Group of Companies, believes that such a replacement is quite possible:

- In terms of technical characteristics, the trains "Lastochka" and "Ivolga" are similar, while initially the "Ivolga" was designed for urban transportation, which is expressed in greater capacity due to fewer seats, wider doors to speed up the process of boarding and disembarking passengers. Technically, the Ivolga can be re-equipped for the tasks of intercity transportation.

However, as always, there is a caveat. Kirill Yankov explains that they were originally created for different operating conditions:

- Ivolga and Lastochka are actually 2 different trains. For example, "Swallows" have less acceleration, but higher top speed. The Ivolga has higher acceleration, but lower top speed. This suggests that the Ivolga is suitable for routes where you need to stop often, relatively speaking, the MCD, and the Lastochka is suitable for long-distance routes, where you can develop a high speed that you cannot develop on the MCD, but at the same time there are fewer stops. Therefore, it will not be able to answer the question of whether the Ivolga can become a replacement for the Lastochka - on long-distance routes. On the neighbors like the MCC - well, of course he can.

Alexei Tuzov believes that the main barrier to the distribution of Ivolga is the quality of its production:

- The use of Lastochkas on intercity routes is explained by safety issues, since these trains are 16 times more reliable than Ivolga. This fact is confirmed by a number of technical incidents that occurred in 2019.

The icing on the cake is, again, the incomplete localization of Orioles, which is practically no different from Lastochka. It would be surprising if the new metropolitan trains were 100% domestic, because 20% of Transmashholding, which controls TVZ, belongs to the French transport company Alstom.

Pause progress

Everything goes to the fact that modern trains in Russia will become less and less modern over time. Kirill Yankov predicts that the further development of the industry will follow the path of simplification:

- It is known from unofficial sources that the Oriole will more or less be replaced with something. Because we also have the production of ordinary electric trains - ED2, ED3, ordinary electric trains, and it is practically independent of imports. They have engines and control systems, so Ivolga has some questions, but given that Transmashholding has an import-independent production of conventional electric trains, they will probably find something to replace it.

Cars of the old type with locomotives will continue to plow the expanses of the Motherland - this cannot be taken away. But further development looks very doubtful. You can forget about the new high-speed highway in general. Last year, about 500 billion rubles were reserved in the FNB for the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed line, and last March, talk began about freezing the project. Kirill Yankov believes that such a freeze is for a long time:

- I think that now we should forget about the high-speed railway for 10-15 years. The high-speed highway will now be irrelevant - the country will not have the economic situation, it will not be up to it. Are there modern train developments in the Russian Federation? No, they don't exist. In the 90s, the original Sokol train was developed, but it is clear that it is outdated. Now development has to start from scratch. World technologies for 20 years have gone far ahead. Even to increase speeds on existing lines, there are probably more hopes for China.

Even now, in terms of the length of high-speed highways, Russia lags behind China by more than 55 times! 36000 km against one line from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 650 km. We are now only 13th in the world rankings. And in such a situation, the backlog will only increase. And until China comes to the rescue, people will continue to move around the country at an average speed of 57 km / h, and plans to increase it to 65 km / h by 2031 will remain plans . You will probably not need to return to the steam locomotives, but the speed of movement will not differ much from them. So in a bright future we will follow very slowly and with transfers.

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