This year the 12th International Rail Business Forum “Strategic Partnership 1520” features delegates from 25 countries, including Iran, Serbia, Austria, France, Germany and the “1520 space” countries. For the first time the event is attended by the delegations from India and Cuba, led by the heads of transportation ministries.
The forum program opened with the plenary session entitled “Entering New Markets. Cooperation as a Tool for Implementation of Global Projects”, with the participation of the Russian Railways CEO Oleg Belozerov.
The head of Russian Railways read out a welcome address from the President of Russia to the forum participants. “Your annual meetings unite the railway industry leaders from the “broad gauge” countries, government officials, and representatives of expert and business communities; such meetings are rightfully considered to be one of the industry’s highlights”, Vladimir Putin said in his address.
Oleg Belozerov emphasized Russia's willingness to work with foreign partners and formulated a key theme of the forum: “Working Together. Notching Up Record Highs”. According to the CEO of Russian Railways JSC, the increased utilization of innovative technical solutions as well as the achievements in infrastructure development, logistics, environmental protection and professional training, are possible mostly via partnership and cooperation.
For many years, the Forum 1520 Strategic Partnership has been a unique platform for business communication, making acquaintances, and for discussion of business development projects and prospects. I am sure the current year will be no exception. I wish all of you a lot of productive work, and hope our foreign guests would get vivid impressions from their stay in the mountain cluster of the Winter Olympics capital of Russia”, Oleg Belozerov said.
Today, Russian Railways JSC is actively engaged in the creation of high-speed network, enabling the development of new business segments, for example, high-speed freight. The Company is willing to collaborate with the businesses interested in entering new markets. It needs a strong partner. “The dynamic entrance into international markets with transparent and reliable partners is our new development paradigm. This is essential for us to ride the global wave of infrastructure transport construction,” he added.
The discussion was joined by some foreign guests. In particular, Rajen Gohain, State Railways Minister of the Republic of India, spoke on the systems and projects, which India is now working on to unlock the potential of its railways. Saeed Mohammadzadeh, Deputy Minister of Roads and Urban Development of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Chairman of the Board and President of Islamic Republic of Iran Railways, made a presentation on the ambitious Iran’s plans for the development of transport sector: in the next decade, the country is intending to double the length of the backbone railway network and increase 14 times the length of electrified tracks. In delivering this and other projects, Iran is assisted by CJSC Transmashholding, as its CEO Kirill Lipa pointed out in detail.
Michael Harms, Executive Director of German Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, speaking on the large-scale investments of German companies into the Russian transport sector, said: “Russian companies need to be more proactive and collaborative in other markets. As we have always emphasized, our cooperation cannot be a “one-way street” deal.”
The plenary session entitled “A Time for Strategic Decisions. What will become the Foundation for Successful Business in the Next 20 Years” was attended by Maxim Sokolov, Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, who noted that new technologies in transport are already in place in Russia. The implementation of ERA-GLONASS system is a convincing example of this. “This is an innovative project for Russia, in which we are a step ahead of our European colleagues and our neighbors from China. We are now working on the creation of a unified geoinformation navigation system for the entire transport system on the basis of ERA-GLONASS, providing a baseline for the integration of other similar systems currently implemented in transport”, Maxim Sokolov added.
The topics of the development of transport infrastructure, passenger services, self-driving vehicles, and the implementation of new transport technologies were also covered in the course of the discussion.
Andrey Kostin, President and Chairman of the Management Board, Member of the Supervisory Council of VTB Bank (OAO) noted in his address that today we needed to develop the customer-oriented products. He also emphasized that we should not forget about the danger that information technology may involve. “Technologies should first of all insure the protection of human health. Therefore, it is important to keep common sense.”
Speaking on the interaction of financial sector and transport system, Andrey Kostin said: “The objective of future banks is not only to deliver traditional banking products, but also to develop services and create a consumer-friendly environment through synergy with other industries, including transport.”
During the “Digital Railway. Rewards of the 1520 and 1435 Partnership” strategic session by Siemens AG, a discussion was held on how the universal digitalization is going to affect the railway industry and whose international expertise can be used. Dietrich Möller, moderator of the discussion, President of Siemens Russia and Vice-President of Siemens AG, believes that the fact that the conference brought together the world leaders in railway technology production shows that we already live in the future where information technology has become an essential part of production.
The key topics of the “Transit 1520” session were the development prospects of the Western Branch of the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) and the e-commerce market. According to Alexander Misharin, First Vice President of Russian Railways JSC, there is still an issue of cargo flows imbalance between East-West and West-East. “At the forum, we have discussed the projects encouraging West-East transportation and eliminating the current imbalance,” Alexander Misharin said. Another important direction in transit development is the incorporation of the INSTC transportation into general logistics. “Last year we had organized the test shipment on the INSTC and showed that the transport corridor was working,” Misharin pointed out.
In the course of the Digital Innovations for Transportation session, the speakers discussed what technologies and ideas would be able to transform the transport system. Evgeny Charkin, IT Director of Russian Railways JSC, spoke on the company’s projects, which are now utilizing new technologies. “Our next mission is to turn our railroad stations to shopping and entertainment hubs, so that the passengers could better enjoy their services. Quite soon all Russian stations will be covered with Wi-Fi.”
Johannes Emmelheinz, Head of the Customer Service Division of Siemens AG, noted in his speech that digital innovations were changing the transition from traditional service to digital technology service. “We shall constantly improve ourselves and try to anticipate the future. Our technology shall rest upon a strong team, a modern data processing platform, and data analysis algorithms,” he added.
Mikhail Andronov, President of Rusenergosbyt LLC provided the examples of energy IT solutions. In particular, he told about a mobile app that finds and recognizes all operating devices in real time and thus allows you to monitor electricity consumption at home.
The session entitled “Rolling-stock Manufacturing. Export Strategy” (in collaboration with NP OPZT), closed the business program of the forum’s first day. The experts discussed how to stimulate the demand for Russian railway engineering products abroad and how to minimize costs while conducting export transactions.