Over 100 independent companies providing passenger and freight services will work on the Russian railway network in 2003. This was announced today by Russian Railway Minister Gennady Fadeev, who was speaking at an enlarged meeting of the ministry's board. These changes are part of reforms to the railway industry.
Fadeev announced that 74 such companies had already been created over 2 years of reforms. He stressed that 'the Railway Ministry has and will continue to have a policy of ensuring wide access by independent operators to the infrastructure of the Russian railway network.' The minister added that 2003 would be the key year in reforming the industry. As a result of the reforms, the railway industry should become a free-market structure. In Fadeev's opinion, the reforms should lead to an increase in access and freight volumes. The ministry estimates that between 2001 and 2007, the years of reform, freight volumes will rise by 25%, and at least 95% of goods will be delivered on time. The main aim of reforms is to reduce the share of government expenditure in freight transportation.
'Our reforms are being carried in the interests of society, not in the interests of the ministry,' stressed Fadeev. He also announced that over the reform years the pay of railway workers should double in real terms. It is proposed that wages should become high enough for a railway worker to buy a flat over 7-10 years.
Austria does not intend to expel Russian diplomats because of the spy scandal