1520 Strategic Forum opens in Sochi

President of Russian Railways (RZD) Vladimir Yakunin today opened the ninth 1520 strategic forum for Russian gauge railways.

The current political situation was recognised from the start. Jochen Eickholt, chief executive of Siemens Rail Systems Division felt it essential to maintain communication and focus on current projects. Siemens considered Russia to be a natural partner. Expecting the current situation in Crimea to de-escalate soon, the company has advised that sanctions would have no effect on its business with Russia.

Ruslan Grinberg, of the Russian Academy of Science felt that the forum had lost Ukraine as a result of the current ‘regrettable situation’. Amongst the 600 or so forum participants there is no-one from Ukrainian Railways.

Topics being considered by the forum include improvements to rail transit corridors and high-speed rail.DSC_0798

Opening the forum, Yakunin stressed the importance of projects to enhance both the Trans Siberian and the more northerly Baikal Amur Mainline Railway which is celebrating its 40th year of construction this month.

In a later session, Professor Li Xin Chinese stressed China’s intention to develop the “New Silk Road” route through Kazakstan in cooperation with all countries concerned.

Building on this theme Yakunin stressed the need to work together to promote infrastructure investment to promote international development and felt this was in contrast with the American market forces approach. He will no doubt expand on this when he meets foreign correspondentsĀ later today (June 19).

Report by David Shirres