Moscow, February 7, 2024 – The Russian state-owned railway, RZHD, finds itself in a severe locomotive shortage, a crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions on critical parts supplies.
Since the latter half of 2023, RZHD has been grappling with a dwindling number of operational locomotives as the volume and duration of rolling stock repairs have surged due to a shortage of sanctioned imported components.
Reports from the Russian publication Vedomosti corroborate the challenges faced by RZHD, shedding light on the severity of the situation.
According to representatives of the state monopoly, the crisis reached a critical juncture in the fourth quarter of 2023, prompting urgent efforts to address the issue with service providers.
While nominally, RZHD has sufficient locomotives for cargo transportation, the operational capacity of the Russian railway network is steadily declining.
The ramifications of this crisis are particularly pronounced on the Sverdlovsk railway, where extended periods of locomotive downtime during repairs are disrupting operations.
Sources close to RZHD reveal that repair operations need to be conducted more effectively, leading to frequent breakdowns of locomotives during transit.
Mikhail Burmistrov, the general director of Infoline-Analytics, underscores the gravity of the situation, highlighting a decline in the technical readiness ratio of the locomotive fleet from 95 per cent to 93 per cent by mid-2023, with further deterioration noted in January 2024.
With approximately 20,000 traction rolling stock units scattered across the RZHD network, repair responsibilities are distributed among various entities, including Lokotech and STM service.
However, these service providers need help with their own challenges, including losing access to specialized components due to sanctions.
Burmistrov further elucidates that a shortage of skilled personnel exacerbates the crisis besides procurement difficulties.
While efforts are underway to integrate domestically produced locomotives into the fleet, the transition is marred by reliability issues and insufficient availability.
Parallel challenges confront the Russian civilian aviation sector in the aftermath of the country’s full-scale invasion.
Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin’s pledge to bolster domestic aircraft production echoes President Putin’s vision of self-sufficiency by 2030. However, recent safety incidents underscore the urgency of this initiative.
Since the onset of the new year, numerous safety-related incidents involving foreign commercial aircraft operated by Russian airlines have been reported.
From technical malfunctions to emergency landings, these incidents underscore the precarious state of the industry.
To mitigate the impact of sanctions, S7 airline announces staff layoffs amidst constraints in fleet maintenance.
The decision reflects the broader repercussions on aviation employment, with a significant portion of its aircraft grounded due to sanctions-related issues.
In a related development, Rosaviatsiya directs airlines to suspend the usage of specific aircraft on flights to Egypt, citing the risk of impoundment.
This directive follows legal disputes surrounding leased aircraft, underscoring the far-reaching consequences of sanctions on Russian aviation operations.
The locomotive shortage plaguing Russian railways and challenges in the aviation sector paints a grim picture of the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
As authorities grapple with the immediate ramifications of sanctions, the long-term implications for Russia’s economic and logistical landscape remain uncertain.