Maxim Sokolov, Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation
Maxim Yuryevich, what is the most important event for you this year?
- There are many of them … For example, this year, after many years of heated discussions, they finally decided to build a highway bridge across the Lena in Yakutia. The construction of the bridge is supposed to be using the mechanism of public-private partnership within the framework of the concession agreement on the principle of "life cycle contract". This will not only attract extrabudgetary funding, but also ensure uninterrupted operation and maintenance of the bridge for the entire period of the concession agreement. In general, this is a very large-scale, serious project. The length of the bridge is 3 km, and with approaches - more than 21 km. Russian bridge builders have good experience in building bridges of this level, for example, a bridge over the Volga in Ulyanovsk with a length of more than 5 km. I'm not talking about the unique bridge on about. Russian in Vladivostok.
Will the bridge on Lena be just as beautiful? The bridge in Vladivostok has already become a hallmark of the city …
- I hope it will become a symbol of not only one city, but the whole of Yakutia. For the republic it is the most important infrastructure object. We do not yet know what this bridge will be like - cable-stayed, arched or traditional, there is no project yet. By the way, the contractor will also be responsible for the project, he will also finance part of the work. This is also new to us. That is, the company that wins the tender will be responsible for all stages of the work. And, of course, it will choose not the most expensive, but the most technologically advanced, high-quality and reliable option.
This bridge is not as grand as on the Lena River, but the Minister also inspected it during a working visit.
And what is the investor’s interest in building a bridge somewhere on the edge of the earth? Near Moscow, where the flow of transport, of course, you can earn … And then what?
- Here the situation is this: the economy, the population really need this bridge. But the pleasure is expensive, the necessary funds in the budget for him in full are not. If you send money only to the bridge, you will have to save on other objects, maybe no less important. In such a situation, the state can attract funds from investors, which, of course, subsequently compensates them. Already at the operation stage. With interest.
At the same time, the state takes on most of the construction costs - approximately 70%, the investor will invest the remaining 30%. Thus, we have the opportunity this year to direct funds from the Road Fund and other important facilities.
- The most important is the Moscow-St. Petersburg expressway. A project of a 140 km long stretch from Novgorod to St. Petersburg has already been completed; a competition for construction has been announced. This road is also being built on a public-private partnership. We are reconstructing a number of significant highways across the country - from the Ussuri and Lena highways in the Far East to the Belarus highway in western Russia.
Maxim Yurievich, we are moving around the Leningrad Region for two days. During this time, it was a question of building a new railway line, developing port infrastructure, and reconstructing the airport … Now we are opening a new section of the Sortavala road. But how do you manage to combine all types of transport - in the interests of the population, of course? In our country there have always been distortions: they only dealt with railways, then they forgot about them and began to develop automobile … And we have such a big country
- Transport in its essence is a single complex that should provide opportunities for the functioning of the economy, for the delivery of goods, and for every citizen - to get from point A to point B. Moreover, it is not so important what kind of transport to travel, the main thing is fast, comfortable, affordable. Such an integrated approach is laid down in the country's Transport Strategy until 2030. We started working on the Strategy a year ago. Particular attention was paid to the development of transport and logistics complexes and transport corridors. Now the document is agreed with all departments and submitted to the government. We expect that the Transport Strategy will be adopted in the near future.
Today, transport in our country creates about 7% of GDP, and in the regions this figure may be higher. In the Far East, this is already 15%, and in the Irkutsk region, Trans-Baikal Territory - almost 20%. There, the main mode of transport is the railway, although road transport is also actively developing. This was helped a lot by the new Chita-Khabarovsk highway …
Igor Morzharetto (left) talks with the Minister
And is it in demand?
- At full capacity - not yet. But it is already 100% equipped. The loads went along the highway, people drove off … It takes time to get used to.
Another corridor that we will actively develop is Europe-Western China.
Last year we traveled around Kazakhstan and saw the pace of building the roads that enter this corridor there. What about us?
- Kazakhstani colleagues took loans from international banks several years ago and are actively building their part on them. This year we plan to sign a number of documents along this corridor within the framework of the SCO (so far there are only bilateral interstate agreements). So, the Chinese promise to surrender their part by 2020. Kazakhstan will start its part, apparently, much earlier, but the road will work for transportation within the country … We were also going to hand over our section by 2020, but maybe it will turn out faster. We discussed all these issues recently at a special meeting in Kazan, where we invited Kazakh colleagues to adjust our plans.
And how will this corridor pass?
- It will start from St. Petersburg, pass along the new M11 highway, then along the section of the Central Ring Road under construction. Then it coincides with the Volga M7 highway, bypasses Nizhny Novgorod (we plan ahead of schedule to complete the third turn of the city bypass ahead of schedule) … By the way, this year twice as much money was allocated for the reconstruction of the M7 highway, and also next year. Further the road goes around Kazan. And in Tatarstan, we launched two interesting PPP projects, these are sections of the highway in the region of Bavly-Sorochi Gory. There, work is already underway. Further, the track touches a little Bashkiria, and ends in the Orenburg region.
In general, we are going, as far as possible, to bring the day of opening the corridor as close as possible, and where it turns out - we attract extra-budgetary funding.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin once said that there is already enough money in road construction. Is there enough strength to raise all these construction sites? Will there be enough specialists, equipment, competencies?
- Underfunding of road construction, which lasted more than 10 years, of course, negatively affected the industry. Some companies completely left this market, others almost lost experienced workers … The system began to recover three years ago, when it was decided to revive the road funds. In recent years, we have not only preserved the road-building complex, but also in many ways brought it to the modern level. Look what a handsome bridge was built in Vladivostok, what unique objects in Sochi!
And what, do without the help of foreign construction companies? Or is it worth them to call?
- We are interested in Russian and foreign companies working in our market. The main thing is that their qualifications and experience meet the highest requirements. Our foreign partners have more and more opportunities to work on the construction of Russian roads. But domestic builders are gradually reaching a decent level. Take, for example, Vladivostok. Our companies undertook the construction of the bridge, although, of course, part of the workers had to be attracted from other countries. As a result, French engineers, who are considered one of the leaders in bridge construction in the world, recognized that the bridge was built using the most modern technologies and high quality.
So we have experience and opportunities to build on a global level. By the way, excellent tracks and road facilities were built for the Universiade in Kazan and Tatarstan. Go take a look!
Road workers are renting out on time (and some ahead of schedule) all the facilities for the Sochi Olympics, although the conditions there are very difficult. We have very big plans to prepare for the World Cup, which will be held in 2018. We are now working closely with the regions where the games will be held. I’m not talking about our “business cards”, the M1 “Belarus” and M4 “Don” tracks - look how they change for the better every year!
Inspection of facilities under construction
So, we can cope on our own?
- Here everything will be decided by the market. We do not object to the fact that foreign contractors came to us, especially if they own advanced technologies. This is great - both for the development of competition, and for the exchange of experience.
You have already mentioned the Olympics, the Universiade, the World Cup in football … Does this mean that all funds will go to these facilities, and nothing will remain on the rest of the road?
“No, it doesn't.” It is necessary to develop the road network throughout the country. In five years, we plan to build about 5 thousand km of new roads, of which 1 thousand - using the PPP mechanism. Another, no less important task is to bring the existing road network into a normative state. Next year we should reach 100% financing of the current repair, so that by 2018 at least 80% of the federal road network will comply with the standards. Last year, 3 thousand federal roads and almost 12 thousand regional roads were repaired. So the tasks for the future are complex, but doable.
As far as I know, a large program for the development of the Moscow transport hub has been adopted. Does this mean that we continue to adhere to the old transport scheme, when all goods and routes are only through Moscow?
- Of course, today we need a different, modern scheme of the road network - with a large number of chord routes. But the existing configuration has developed historically, and we must be aware that it will take years, decades, to create a new one. So, we are simultaneously trying to modernize the existing scheme, and where possible, we plan to build the same chords. Our new strategy provides for the creation of transport corridors that will connect, for example, ports with points of economic growth in the country's regions - bypassing the capital. And the Central Ring Road is also one of the ways to take transport bypassing the capital.
- There are questions about the Central Ring Road. At the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, President Putin announced that this 500-kilometer highway would be built as soon as possible, and funds from the National Wealth Fund would be allocated for this. I saw the scheme of the future highway - why is it so strange? For the most part, it coincides with a small concrete ring, but in the west of the capital it goes along a large ring, circling the elite suburban areas of the Moscow Region. Is it to please the locals, or what?
- The configuration of the Central Ring Road was developed by the Main Department of Architecture of the Moscow Region. This was done in accordance with the General Plan for the Development of the Region, which was adopted in the mid-2000s. Of course, the proposed scheme was discussed with the Ministry of Transport of Russia. Its “strange” configuration, as you say, is primarily due to the need to preserve the forest between the Zvenigorod course of the existing small concrete ring and the arc of the “big concrete” from the M-1 Belarus highway to the M-10 Rossiya highway. Due to the fact that in the suburbs dominated by westerly and northwesterly winds, this area has great recreational value. Its forests are the lungs of Moscow and the region. To build a new road, it would be necessary to cut down a large amount of the most valuable forest for the region's residents. In addition, during the construction of the road in these territories, residential buildings would have to be demolished. Considering how densely populated the Moscow Region is near the capital, it is easy to calculate that the amount of compensation paid to home owners in this case would make the project unrealistically expensive. Therefore, in the end, it was decided to build a new section between the M-1 and M-10 highways in the area of the large concrete ring, and make the existing Zvenigorod small concrete course free of charge, after reconstructing it.
According to the plans of the Avtodor state-owned company, in the next six years only the southeastern arc of the Central Ring Road should be built, from Gorkovsky to the Minsk highway. And when is the Central Ring Road "locked" in the ring?
- Yes, by 2019 we plan to complete the construction of the fourth and first launch complexes of the Central Ring Road, forming an arc between the M-7 Volga and M-1 Belarus roads. At the same time, the territory will be prepared for the construction of the third launch complex (between the M-11 Moscow-St. Petersburg and M-7 highways). Work on the preparation of the territory is already underway. I would like more, but the budget is not rubber …
However, the transport situation in the Moscow region dictates a new time frame for the creation of the Central Ring Road. Avtodor went to the Ministry of Transport with a proposal to include in its program the construction of the third, fourth and first complexes, as well as the reconstruction of the fifth launch complex (the same Zvenigorod course). Thus, the ring of the Central Ring Road can be closed by 2020. From the construction of the second complex, between M-1 and M-11 in the area of the large concrete, which, in your opinion, makes the configuration of the road “strange”, we are offered to refuse for a while. The Ministry of Transport supports this proposal. The Central Ring Road is one of the most important elements of the transport system in Moscow and the Moscow Region, so we are now coordinating plans with the metropolitan and regional governments.
I asked this question to the Minister of Transport 10 years ago: what is the most difficult thing in road construction? And he received an answer: the procedure of alienation of land. It sometimes drags on for 3 years or more … Did you manage to solve this problem?
- It was possible in relation to federal transport facilities, communication lines and highways of federal, regional or local significance, the construction of which is carried out on the territory of Moscow and the region under the law related to the accession of new territories to Moscow.
But for other regions, the problem remains. I just held a meeting today on the construction of a new railway line in the Leningrad Region, and half the time we decided on issues related to land allocation. It feels like we have a terrible shortage of land … Now the Ministry of Transport is preparing a bill that will allow us to divide the construction and preparatory work into two stages, both in time and in areas of responsibility. Then it will be possible to conduct work in parallel: while all property issues are being resolved in one area, construction can begin on others that have already been prepared.
Then we can talk not about three preparatory years, but less?
- It’s hard to say yet … The process of preparing the territory both in our country and abroad is legally complicated, because it involves many aspects. But at least we can ensure the continuity of construction, and in general it will be completed faster.
But actually, as the Minister of Transport, I would gladly spread the effect of the "Olympic" laws throughout the country (they allow, if necessary, to accelerate the process of redemption of land - IM) …
When they started to build the M11 highway, due to the efforts of environmentalists in Khimki forest, work stopped - almost a year. Now there are no such problems, after all, several equally significant construction projects are starting at the same time?
- From that story we made serious conclusions. Despite the fact that the start of construction was really very delayed, it was a good lesson. Now we begin to work with residents and public organizations long before the start of construction. And the state-owned Avtodor company, which is building the M11 road, today has constructive, working relations with environmental organizations. Large-scale environmental assessments are carried out at all stages of the work. In the event that it turns out that the project affects objects that are valuable from an environmental point of view, you have to change it, even if it managed to go through the final stage of approvals - the Glavgosexpertiza. A fresh example is the site of the fourth launch complex, which should pass through the territory of the Voskresensky district. The project was approved in all instances, including the forestry department in the Moscow region and Moscow. However, during the preparation of the territory for the construction of the road, it turned out that its route passes through the planting of larch trees, created by scientists in the middle of the last century. This grove does not have the status of a conservation area, but it is of great value for science, since it contains various species of larch brought by scientists from different regions of the USSR and other countries. In this regard, the project will be adjusted, and the new road will bypass these landings.
We are traveling through the territory of the Leningrad Region, and, as I understand it, many objects began to be built here with your participation, when you worked in the city government. Was it not a pity to give them to others?
- What are you, on the contrary - good! I am sincerely glad that most of the projects that began, including with my participation, are being successfully implemented today. Many of them are long-term, here the work will be enough for several generations of builders, engineers, and officials. This inspires optimism, because forward movement is visible. So there is no jealousy, there is satisfaction and, which is especially pleasant, a sense of ownership.
For example, the Western High Speed Diameter in St. Petersburg (the highway from north to south, from the Scandinavia highway to the exit to the ports - IM) is the first example of PPP in our country. I spent several years on this project, and not in vain - I got invaluable experience. The necessary regulatory framework was formed, which simply did not exist before, a very strong team of managers was formed … Now similar projects are launched throughout the country. And the WHSD is under construction, now the second turn will be handed over soon!
Do you have free time?
- This is such a philosophical question … If you compare the availability of free time in my student years, and now - then it is much less. But more than when I served in the army. Then he was not there at all, the foreman strictly watched so that no one lounged. It is important to find harmony for yourself. If the business that you are doing is important to others, but you yourself are satisfied and driven, then you feel quite comfortable. And for rest, short breaks are enough.
Moreover, the results of the work of the Ministry of Transport team are there, although only a year has passed. New kilometers of roads are being designed, new airports are being built. The first port on the Northern Sea Route was laid, several major decisions on the development of the northern territories were made. Ahead is the construction of the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway. I hope to bring all these projects.