All major road projects, even with maximum traffic (M11 Moscow-Petersburg, Western High-Speed Diameter in St. Petersburg) required large non-returnable government investments, said PwC partner Mikhail Bazhenov.
For Meridian, where the share of debt financing is significant, the key will be a first-class guarantee, at least covering the return and the specified debt - with interest, commissions and sufficiency ratios, and operating costs, Bazhenov concludes.
Beat the competition
President Vladimir Putin also spoke about the need to build and reconstruct roads in the direction of China. “It was the Meridian highway that was implied,” the former federal official interprets. But the government is familiar with several route routes that would ensure the transit of goods from Europe to China. The Meridian itself is one of the options for the Europe-Western China transport corridor, you can build a new Moscow-Kazan highway, or have an idea to reconstruct the M7 highway with a bypass of major cities. All these routes, the presidential administration official explained, are considered to be competing.
Ryazanov expects to conclude with the government an agreement on the protection and promotion of investments (SZPK), according to which the authorities will not build and reconstruct roads in the same direction as Meridian, otherwise the route may lose traffic.
“Meridian” is a private project that can be implemented if the cargo base and extrabudgetary funding is confirmed, the representative of the Ministry of Transport said. At a meeting with Medvedev’s participation, Transport Minister Yevgeny Dietrich insisted on excluding Meridian from the trunk plan, because the investor had delayed the provision of the necessary documents, but Medvedev approved the project instead, the official said.
As before, the main project of the state company Avtodor remains - a new highway with the same infrastructural sense as Meridian, connecting Europe with Western China. The Avtodor project has even been included in the trunk plan, but the final decision that the route will be built by the government has not yet been made, although the deputy chairman of the government, Maxim Akimov, has instructed to prepare the draft territory planning for the highway.
The main road Europe - Western China requires substantial budget funding, said a participant in government meetings, and if Meridian received support, the chances for its construction are reduced. In addition, he continues, the construction and reconstruction of roads on the Europe-Western China route is estimated at 1 trillion rubles. against 600 billion on the "Meridian" with a comparable length. The cost of 1 km of the route is estimated by the initiators of Meridian at 300 million rubles. To some of the experts interviewed by Vedomosti, it seems to be understated, while others say it all depends on whether bridges, racks and engineering communications are included in this amount. The initiators of the “Meridian” may apply for state support later, when it becomes clear that the authorities will not have time to build other roads by the end of 2024, said a participant in government meetings.
By July 20, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Construction should submit to the government a coordinated position: what are the costs, sources of funding, political and social risks of reconstructing the M7 Volga highway (another competing project. - Vedomosti), said in a copy of the minutes of the meeting have Medvedev. “This option is now being considered as an alternative to the new Moscow-Kazan highway,” said a participant in government meetings. The cost of the new route is comparable to the cost of reconstruction, a federal official knows.
But, most likely, the variant with the reconstruction of the M7 will be postponed, the federal official continues: The Ministry of Transport insists that reconstruction is possible only after the construction of the new Moscow-Kazan highway is completed, moreover, it will take more time than new construction. Speech about the largest transport artery of the country, explains a participant in government meetings, reconstruction and expansion may take six years, the route will have to be blocked - all this is fraught with a real political collapse.
How to pay back
To help recoup the "Meridian" could be payment obligations under the contracts - for example, in the event of a large strategy for the development of territories near the highway, says Rayev.
But the initiators of the "Meridian" are counting mainly to pay for the road, intercepting part of the container traffic of the Suez Canal - about 3.5%. According to Ryazanov, the expectation is that about 600 trucks a day will pass by the road. “It's a bit, the road will be almost empty,” admits Ryazanov.
Conceptually this is possible, but everything will depend on the ratio of time and cost of transportation, some of the goods, including perishable ones, can be reoriented to this route, said Alexander Knobel, director of the Institute for International Economics and Finance at the Academy of Foreign Trade. It is important that Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union as a whole move along the path of opening trade with the European Union, and not restrictions, he concludes.