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Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed rail to run first train in December 2026

The cost of the Moscow-St.Petersburg high-speed railway line construction is preliminarily estimated at $23.2 bln

MOSCOW, August 6. /TASS/. Russia’s Transport Ministry expects the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway (HSR) to run the first train in December 2026, Deputy Transport Minister Vladimir Tokarev said in an interview with TASS.

"We plan to launch HSR in December 2026," he said, answering the corresponding question.

According to him, the project is cost effective, can break-even after the first full year of operation - in 2027, and will start making profit in the fifth year of operation, in 2031.

"Moscow-St. Petersburg is one of the most popular destinations for travel by rail. Over the past year, there was a steady growth in traffic volumes - 104% against the level of 2018. The route remained in demand at the beginning of 2020," Tokarev said.

The decrease in passenger traffic in the period from March to June is a consequence of restrictive measures imposed due to an unfavorable epidemiological situation, he added.

The deputy transport minister also said that, according to the available calculations, in the fourth year of operation of the HSR between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the total passenger traffic will be 23.3 million people, the dynamics of passenger traffic is estimated at an average of +1.7% per year, and these are "serious indicators. "

Tokarev noted that the high-speed railway will not be intended for freight traffic.

"The schedule of high-speed trains, which will meet the demand from passengers, as well as a number of technical features, will not allow the use of the high-speed railroad for freight traffic. However, it should be noted that putting the high-speed rail into operation will free the main passage of the Oktyabrskaya railway. It will become possible to used for shipment of cargos between Moscow and the ports of St. Petersburg. A similar situation is developing with the Central and Petersburg transport hubs," he said.

That means that the construction and commissioning of the high-speed highway will increase the capacity of the existing infrastructure, the deputy minister concluded.

In April 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin approved the start of designing the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway line project.

The cost of the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway line construction was preliminarily estimated at 1.5 trillion rubles ($20 bln) as announced in June 2019 by Maksim Akimov who was then Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister.

On Thursday, Tokarev said that the cost of the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway line construction is preliminarily estimated at 1.7 trillion rubles ($23.2 bln).