Rail transport in Russia
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Rail transport in Russia has been called an economic wonder of the 19th, 20th, and 21st century. In length of track Russian railroads are second globally to the railways of the United States. In volume of freight hauled, they are third behind the United States and China, using the standard measure of ton-kilometers. In overall density of operations (here the standard measure is (freight ton-kilometers + passenger-kilometers)/length of track)) Russia is second only to China.
Characteristics of the Russian rail transport system 
Russia is a much larger country than either the United States or China, so its rail density (rail track/country area) is lower than that of these other two – much lower in the case of the United States. Since Russia's population density is also much lower than that of these other two (excluding Alaska from the U.S. measure in this case), the Russian railways carry their freight and passengers over very long distances, often through vast, nearly empty spaces; their average length of haul is second in the world, behind only the United States and essentially tied with Canada. Coal and coke make up almost one-third of the freight traffic and have average hauls of around 1500 kilometers, while ferrous metals make up another 10 percent of freight traffic and travel an average of over 1900 kilometers. Many remote shippers and customers have access either to only very poor alternative shipping options by road or water, and/or access to those alternative options for less than the entire year.
Though like most railways RZhD carries both freight and passengers, it is one of the most freight-dominant railways in the world, behind only Canada, the United States, and Estonia in the ratio of freight ton-kilometers to passenger-kilometers. However per head of population intercity passenger travel is far greater than the United States (which has the lowest long distance passenger train usages in developed world). Measured by the share of freight carried, RZhD is second to none among the world's largest railways in its importance to its country's economy.
The Russian railways are divided into seventeen regional railways, from the October Railway serving the St. Petersburg region to the Far Eastern Railway serving Vladivostok, with the free-standing Kaliningrad and Sakhalin Railways on either end. However, the regional railways are closely coordinated by the central authority – the Ministry of the Means of Communication, MPS, until 2003, and the Joint Stock Company Russian Railways, Rossiiskie Zheleznyie Dorogi or RZhD, since then – including the pooling and redistribution of revenues. This has been crucial to two long-standing policies of cross-subsidization: to passenger operations from freight revenues, and to coal shipments from other freight.
Brief history 
The Russian railways were a collection of mostly privately owned and operated companies during most of the 19th century, though many had been constructed with heavy government involvement and financing. The tsarist government began mobilizing and nationalizing the rail system as World War I approached, and the new communist government finished the nationalization process. With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the Russian Federation was left with three-fifths of the railway track of the Union as well as nine-tenths of the highway mileage – though only two-fifths of the port capacity.
In this century, substantial changes in the Russian railways have been discussed and implemented in the context of two government reform documents: Decree No. 384 of 18 May 2001 of the Government of the Russian Federation, "A Program for Structural Reform of Railway Transport", and Order No. 877 of 17 June 2008 of the Government of the Russian Federation, "The Strategy for Railway Development in the Russian Federation to 2030". The former focused on restructuring the railways from government-owned monopoly to competitive sector; the latter focused on ambitious plans for equipment modernization and network expansion.
Statistics, current 
Russian Railways accounts for 2.5% of Russia's GDP. The percentage of freight and passenger traffic that goes by rail is unknown, since no statistics are available for private transportation such as private automobiles or company-owned trucks. In 2007, about 1.3 billion passengers and 1.3 billion tons of freight went via Russian Railways. In 2007 the company owned 19,700 goods and passenger locomotives, 24,200 passenger cars (carriages) (2007) and 526,900 freight cars (goods wagons) (2007). A further 270,000 freight cars in Russia are privately owned (needs source).
Industrial railroads 
Besides the common-carrier railroads that are well covered by government statistics there are many industrial railways (such as mining or lumbering railroads) whose statistics are covered separately, and which in 1981 had a total length almost equal to the length of the common carrier railroads. Currently (2008) they are only about half the length of the common-carrier system. In 1980, about two-thirds of their freight flowed to and from the common-carrier railroads while the remaining third was internal transport only on an industrial railroad. (For example, a lumber company uses its private industrial railroad to transport logs from a forest to its sawmill.) In 1981, there was 33.4 thousand kilometers of narrow gauge. About 4% of the industrial railroad traffic was on track jointly "owned" by two companies.
Hardware overview 
Russian railways were modernized mostly during the Soviet period and achieved world class hardware status.
The SA3 coupler (Soviet Automatic coupler, model 3) used in Russia is more advanced than the Janney coupler used in the United States. Advantages of the Russian SA3 include: 1. It is always ready to couple, unlike the Janney coupler which requires that at least one of the couplers has its knuckle open. 2. It has greater gathering range.
While the Russians may have the best designed coupler in the world, there were problems with it breaking due to making it with lower quality steel, low quality of maintenance/repairs/rebuilding, and coupling cars at speeds higher than allowed by the rules. The quality of steel was improved but other problems remained.
Railway Universities 
Railway universities prepare students for careers in various aspects of railroading. They were formerly known as: "railway colleges". During the Soviet period they were often known as "higher educational institutes" (for railroads) оr вуз (Russian), (an acronym ), and this designation is still in use. In 1967 (Soviet period) they had a total of 215,000 students enrolled, about half of which were correspondence students. However, less than 7000 students graduated each year, mostly in engineering (such as electrical, mechanical, or civil engineering with emphasis on railroad applications).
Today (2010), about 20 years after the demise of the Soviet Union that founded many of these colleges, railway universities are still quite active. Two major railway universities in 2010 are in St. Petersburg and Moscow:
- Petersburg Government University of Railways official site (Russian) (a little in English)
- Moscow State University of Railway Engineering (MIIT) official site (Russian) (a little in English)
The Moscow "University claims to be the 5th largest university in the world in terms of the number of students (about 60,000).  This excludes correspondence students but might include students in the over 40 branches of the university in other cities and also might include students in the "technikum" (which is something like an advanced trade school) that merged into the university. However only "17,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students" are claimed on the English part of the official university website:
Other Railway Universities in Russia (with more precisely translated names like "Samara Government University of Railways") in 2010 are: (Note that "wiki" refers to the Russian Wikipedia [in Russian])
- Samara Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site located in Samara
- Omsk Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site located in Omsk
- Rostov Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site located in Rostov-on-Don
- Far East Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site (English) located in Khabarovsk
- Irkutsk Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site located in Irkutsk
- Siberian Railway University (wiki) (Russian) official site located in Novosibirsk
- Ural State University of Railway Transport official site located in Sverdlovsk
- Russian Open Academy of Transportation (wiki) (Russian) official site headquarters in Moscow
(The "Open Academy" is a correspondence school and is part of the Moscow Railway University: MIIT).
The above universities often have branches in other cities. Railway trade schools "technikumi" may have been taken in under the university umbrella. The above websites often include pictures of campuses, students, etc. For full access to the websites (which includes class assignments, etc.) one usually needs an account (including password) which only the students, etc. may obtain. Russians today seem to be highly motivated to obtain a college education, even if the job prospects are not very good. It was thought by some that under capitalism, there would not be the surplus of college graduates that existed in the USSR. But it turns out that there is an even greater surplus today. 
Command & control system 
Since 2010 the company had started an overhaul of its computer systems. The overhaul will centralize the management of data into new computing hubs, restructure the collection of information on the railroad's field operations, and integrate new automation software to help the railway strategize how to deploy its assets. The geriatric machines that the new mainframes will replace include Soviet-built clones of IBM's Cold War–era computers, called ES EVM (the transliterated Russian acronym for "unified system of electronic computing machines").
Foreign activities 
Joint ventures have been formed to build and operate a port in Rasŏn in North Korea, and rail links connecting that port to the Russian rail network at the North Korean-Russian border Khasan-Tumangang.
Voltage of electrification systems not necessarily compatible.
- Same gauge:
- Finland, the difference to 1,524 mm (5 ft) is so small that the same rolling stock can be used
- Estonia, same approximate gauge as Finland
- Lithuania – only from the Kaliningrad Oblast enclave
- Georgia – currently, only connects with the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia; the line beyond, to Georgia proper, is closed for political reasons.
- China, break-of-gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
- North Korea, break-of-gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
- Poland – only from the Kaliningrad Oblast enclave - break-of-gauge 1,520 mm (4 ft 11 5⁄6 in) to 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)
- Note that break-of-gauge between Poland and Belarus near Brest are in use of Russian Railways mostly
See also 
- Intro adapted from Russell Pittman, "Blame the Switchman? Russian Railways Restructuring After Ten Years," working paper, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 2011. Blame the Switchman? Russian Railways Restructuring After Ten Years
- Lenta.RU News "РЖД попросила правительство заняться спасением железных дорог" (Russian) (RZhD asks government to rescue the railroad)
- Table 2.28. ПЕРЕВОЗКИ ПАССАЖИРОВ И ПАССАЖИРООБОРОТ ЖЕЛЕЗНОДОРОЖНОГО ТРАНСПОРТА ОБЩЕГО ПОЛЬЗОВАНИЯ; TRANSPORTATION OF PASSENGERS AND PASSENGER TURNOVER OF PUBLIС RAILWAY TRANSPORT Основные показатели транспортной деятельности в России - 2008 г. Copyright © Федеральная служба государственной статистики
- Table 2.25. ПЕРЕВОЗКИ ГРУЗОВ И ГРУЗООБОРОТ ЖЕЛЕЗНОДОРОЖНОГО ТРАНСПОРТА ОБЩЕГО ПОЛЬЗОВАНИЯ TRANSPORTATION OF CARGO AND FREIGHT TURNOVER OF PUBLIC RAILWAY TRANSPORT Основные показатели транспортной деятельности в России - 2008 г. Copyright © Федеральная служба государственной статистики
- Table 2.24. НАЛИЧИЕ ПОДВИЖНОГО СОСТАВА ЖЕЛЕЗНОДОРОЖНОГО ТРАНСПОРТА ОБЩЕГО ПОЛЬЗОВАНИЯ; PUBLIC RAILWAY ROLLING STOCK AND ITS USE Основные показатели транспортной деятельности в России - 2008 г. Copyright © Федеральная служба государственной статистики
- "ПРОТЯЖЕННОСТЬ ЭКСПЛУАТАЦИОННЫХ ПУТЕЙ ЖЕЛЕЗНОДОРОЖНОГО ТРАНСПОРТА ОБЩЕГО ПОЛЬЗОВАНИЯ" [Lengths of railway lines] (in Russian). Table 2.13.
- Freight by electric railroad 2008 (Russian)
- Плакс, p.5 (Russian)
- Рeзер p. 5 (Russian)
- Industrial Railroad Statistics (Russian)
- Рeзер pp. 25-6 (Russian)
- филиппов 1981 pp. 18–14. Филиппов 1991 пп. 152-4 (Russian); See also Шадур 1980, Chapt. X: Ударно-тяговые приборы (couplers and draft gears) (Russian)
- George R. Cockle (editor) "Car and locomotive cyclopedia of american practices" (3rd edition), Simmons-Boardman Pub. Corp., New York, 1974. p. S8-1 (Section 8: Couplers). Note that the SA3 is a Willison type coupler.
- Шадур p. 12 (Russian)
- Костина, Н.А. +, "Предупреждение разрывов поездов" (Preventing trains from breaking in two) ЖТ 10-1988 pp. 41-2 (and another article from ЖТ -date unknown)
- Personal letter dated Nov. 15, 1967 to David Lawyer from Professor Nicholas DeWitt (director of "International Survey of Educational Development and Planning" at Indiana University)
- :В.П. Янелисом "Газета «выстреливает» один раз; Интервью с главным редактором студенческой газеты МИИТа «Инженер транспорта» В.П. Янелисом" (Russian) (The newspaper is a one-shot deal ; Interview with the editor of the student newspaper of MIIT 'Transport Engineer' В.П. Янелисом) Политическое образование (Political Education (Internet Magazine)) Feb. 1, 2010.
- Тамара Андреева: "Подготовка специалистов Ориентиры «двойных» реформ" (Russian)(Preparing specialists, orienting on double reform) in Транспорт России, № 13 (613) 25 March 2010.
- About the university
- Ochkina, A. V. , 2004-08-14 "The motivation for college education in contemporary Russia" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA, Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109048_index.html
- IEEE Spectrum's special report: Winners & Losers VII: IBM overhauls Russian Railways' software infrastructure, p. 123 By Sandria Upson, Jan. 2010. Full text :
- Eurailpress: RZD gewinnt Ausschreibung in Armenien
- "Railway Gazette: Rajin port accord". Retrieved 2010-10-30.
In English 
- Boublikoff, A.A. "A suggestion for railroad reform" in book: Buehler, E.C. (editor) "Government ownership of railroads", Annual debater's help book (vol. VI), New York, Noble and Noble, 1939; pp. 309–318. Original in journal "North American Review, vol. 237, pp. 346+. (Title is misleading. It's 90% about Russian railways.)
- European Conference of Ministers of Transport, "Regulatory Reform of Railways in Russia," 2004. Regulatory Reform of Railways in Russia
- Hunter, Holland "Soviet transport experience: Its lessons for other countries", Brookings Institution 1968.
- Omrani, Bijan. Asia Overland: Tales of Travel on the Trans-Siberian and Silk Road Odyssey Publications, 2010 ISBN 962-217-811-1
- Pittman, Russell, "Blame the Switchman? Russian Railways Restructuring After Ten Years," working paper, Antitrust Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 2011. Blame the Switchman? Russian Railways Restructuring After Ten Years
- "Railroad Facts" (Yearbook) Association of American Railroads, Washington, DC (annual).
- "Transportation in America", Statistical Analysis of Transportation in the United States (18th edition), with historical compendium 1939-1999, by Rosalyn A. Wilson, pub. by Eno Transportation Foundation Inc., Washington DC, 2001. See table: Domestic Intercity Ton-Miles by Mode, pp. 12–13.
- UN (United Nations) Statistical Yearbook. The earlier editions were designated by date (such as 1985/86) but later editions use the edition number (such as 51st). After 1985/86 the "World railway traffic" table was dropped.After the 51st ? edition, the long table: "Railways: traffic" was dropped resulting in no more UN railway statistics.
- Urba CE, "The railroad situation : a perspective on the present, past and future of the U.S. railroad industry". Washington : Dept. of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Policy and Program Development Govt. Print. Off., 1978.
- VanWinke, Jenette and Zycher, Benjamin; "Future Soviet Investment in Transportation, Energy, and Environmental Protection" A Rand Note. The Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA, 1992. Rand Soviet Transport
- Westwood J.N, 2002 "Soviet Railways to Russian Railways" Palgrave Macmillan.
- Ward, Christopher J., "Brezhnev's Folly: The Building of BAM and Late Soviet Socialism", University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.
In Russian 
- Госкомстат СССР (Gov't Statistical Committee). Народное хозяйство СССР: статистический ежегодник (The national economy of the USSR, statistical yearbook). Mосква, Финансы и статистика, various years till 1990.
- Госкомстат СССР (Уманский, Л.). Народное хозяйство СССР за 70 лет: юбилейный статистический ежегодник. Москва, Финансы и статистика, 1987.
- Госкомстат СССР. Транспорт и связь СССР: Статистический сборник (USSR Transportation and Communications: statistics). Москва, 1990 (and other editions: 1967, 1972, etc.)
- ЖТ = Железнодорожный Транспорт (Railroad Transportation), a monthly magazine published since 1826. The month designation is numeric; e.g. 10-1998 is the November issue.
- Плакс, А.В. & Пупынин, В.Н. Электрические железные дороги (Electric Railroads). Москва, Транспорт, 1993.
- Резер, С.М. Взаимодействие транспортных систем. Москва, Наука, 1985.
- Шадур, Л.А. (editor). Вагоны: конструкция, теория и расчёт (Railroad cars: construction, theory and calculations). Москва, Транспорт, 1980.
- Фед = Федеральная служба государственной статистики (Federal government statistical service). Транспорт в России (Transportation in Russia) (annual) Available online.
- Филиппов, М.М. (editor). Железные Дороги. Общий Курс (Railroads. General Course). Москва, Транспорт, 3rd ed. 1981. (4th ed. 1991 with new editor: Уздин, М.М.).
- Шафиркин, Б.И. Единая Транспортная Система СССР и взаимодействие различных видов транспорта (Unified Transportation System of the USSR and interaction of various modes of transportation). Москва, Высшая школа, 1983.
- Шадур. Л. А. (editor). Вагоны (Railway cars). Москва, Транспорт, 1980.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rail transport in Russia|
- Russian Railways Official Site (English) (Russian)
- Steam on Sakhalin Island 
- Russian Railway in 1935
- A site about railways in C.I.S. and Baltics
- Rail Fan Europe
- Rail map of former Soviet Union Shows electrification status and also many Industrial railroads.