Renewal of the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk railroad line is postponed

The customer of the railway ferries will be the state FSUE "Rosmorport". No private partners for this project could be found.
The government decided to abandon the concession scheme for the construction of rail ferries Ust-Luga-Baltiysk. The FSUE "Rosmorport" will become the customer of the vessels, and their number will be reduced from three to two. At the same time it is already obvious that the cost of ferries will be much higher than planned 4.7 billion rubles. And the construction time can be delayed.

New ferries for the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk railroad crossing will not be built according to the concession scheme, their customer will be FSUE "Rosmorport", told "Kommersant" sources in the market. And he will build not three, as expected, but two ferries. This was confirmed in the Kaliningrad region: according to Governor Anton Alikhanov, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak in March decided that FSUE Rosmorport "within the allocated budget allocations in the period 2018-2020" will build one ferry, and then the second of its own funds " in case of confirmation of the availability of the necessary cargo base. " Anton Alikhanov specified that the regional authorities took an "active part in the discussion", considering three ferries as necessary, but "the question relates to the powers of the federal executive bodies".

Currently, two ferries operate on the Ust-Luga-Baltiysk line: Baltiysk (the operator is a subsidiary of Russian Railways LLC BFI) and Ambal (the operator is Anship), but soon they must be written off. The new vessels are designed to ensure the transport security of the Kaliningrad region and to lift the region's dependence on the tariff policy of the railways of Lithuania and Belarus. Until now, it was believed that the project would be implemented on the terms of public-private partnership. Kommersant sources said that Rosmorrechflot would be the owner and owner of the ferries, the Baltic Ferry Company, established by Paul Management (75%) and Russian Railways, was the concessionaire. The project was estimated at 14.1 billion rubles, of which 5.1 billion rubles. provided a budget and another 9 billion rubles. As a loan, Gazprombank was ready to give. According to the plan approved by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on June 13, 2017, in November of the same year it was already planned to sign a contract for construction, and to complete it in 2020.

In the Ministry of Transport and JSC RZD refused to comment. At Gazprombank and Rosmorport, Kommersant was not answered. But the source in FSUE confirmed the change in the scheme. The location of the ferries will be determined by the results of the competition, its terms are still unknown. According to the interlocutor of "Kommersant", it is already obvious that the cost of one ferry will be more expensive than those previously called 4.7 billion rubles. Another source of Kommersant on the market says that the bank showed interest in the project as a concession, but now it is "actually state procurement", so the issue has lost relevance.

According to one of the interlocutors of Kommersant, the main problem of the project is the ambiguity of the cargo base. He admits that when it is confirmed, all three ships will be built, but with the changed parameters: "It was planned that the ferry will accommodate 165 gondola cars, now it is decided to reduce the capacity to eighty. Instead of three decks there will be one that will allow loading the ship without the use of elevators and shorten the loading time and simple. " In addition, the ferry will use LNG as fuel. Another source of Kommersant among the risks of the project calls the transit tariffs of Lithuania and Belarus: if they turn out to be low, the ferry can compete with the railways only with subsidies. Anton Alikhanov noted that in April the regional authorities sent a letter to the Ministry of Transport about the need to establish competitive tariffs for cargo transportation with the participation of the Baltiysk-Ust-Luga ferry crossing.

The head of Infoline Analytics, Mikhail Burmistrov, explains the failure of the concession scheme by the fact that the largest shippers of the Sodruzhestvo and Avtotor regions are not interested in investing in ferries or providing stringent guarantees for the cargo base. In the opinion of the expert, it is desirable to put on the line one more cargo-passenger ferry, which by characteristics will be similar to the "Baltic", that is, to transport wagons, freight road trains and passengers. Passenger ferry "St. Petersburg" is very worn out (since April 10 is under repair) and soon should be written off, notes Mr. Burmistrov. According to him, the cost of building a new ferry at Russian shipyards will be at least 6 billion rubles. at a term of not less than three years, and taking into account the lack of necessary experience and devaluation of the ruble, the term can grow up to four years, and the price - up to 8 billion rubles.