The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Presidential Aide, State Council Secretary Igor Levitin, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev, Head of the Republic of Buryatia, Chair of the State Council Commission on Transport Alexei Tsydenov, Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region Gleb Nikitin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, General Director of the State Transport Leasing Company Yevgeny Ditrikh; First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Alexander Kozlov, Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Energy Nikolai Shulginov, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Central Federal District Igor Shchegolev, Governor of the Samara Region Dmitry Azarov, Governor of the Astrakhan Region Igor Babushkin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vodokhod Viktor Olersky, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Aeon Infrastructure Corporation Roman Trotsenko took part in the meeting via videoconference.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today we will discuss the development of river navigation.
As you can see, our meeting is taking place at the North River Terminal. Mr Sobyanin and his colleagues just told me about the history of the North River Terminal, how it was renovated over several years; the embankment, the piers and the adjacent area were all refurbished or rebuilt. I would like to thank the Moscow Mayor and your entire team for this work.
I know that this area has become a popular recreation site for the locals, but the main thing is that the North River Terminal has regained its status as a large transport and tourist hub, not only for Moscow, but for Russia in general.
And, of course, Moscow’s public transport system – we have discussed this subject many times – continues to develop at a rapid pace: new transport routes are being launched, metro cars are upgraded along with ground transport fleet. A single complex has been created with all types of public transport interconnected and complementing each other. All these positive changes are evident, and Moscow residents and, of course, tourists who come to the capital, appreciate it.
Today regular river service is being launched along the Moskva River. It will be connected to the general network of city transit routes, and environmentally friendly, Russian-made electric riverboats, or river trams, will be used here. We just looked at one; everything is simple, constructive, nicely done, and there are panoramic-view windows. I think everyone who uses this transport will enjoy it.
This up-to-date, breakthrough approach to the development of the public transport system is, of course, a credit to the Moscow team.
Russia has many rivers, reservoirs and canals. They play a huge role in passenger and cargo transport, hydroelectric power generation, agriculture, ensuring the operation of the housing and utilities complex.
Improvements to the water transport system largely influence general economic growth in the country, as well as the development of industry, tourism and other sectors in the regions. This is a significant contribution to building up our transport potential. There are many opportunities here, and of course they should be used competently and thoughtfully.
A system-wide issue here is the maintenance of inland waterways and the construction of new navigable hydraulic structures. Sections that limit boat size, bottlenecks that restrict navigation and reduce the capacity of the waterways are an acute problem.
It is important that we ensure guaranteed depths for vessel traffic, primarily along the most popular routes. This will make it possible to expedite the development of river navigation and to expand passenger and cargo service.
Let’s discuss how these issues are addressed.
I would also like to hear a report on the progress of the work to construct Bagayevsky and Gorodetsky hydroelectric complexes. They are needed to eliminate bottlenecks along the shipping routes of the Don and the Volga rivers and to increase transit navigation on the promising North-South transport corridor.
The development of water passenger service is another key goal. It is necessary to expand its use, not only between regions, but also between neighbouring settlements and within cities. The experience of Moscow and other regions where water transport is already integrated into the intracity transit system, is very important here.
These riverboats that we looked at today, electric river trams, can be a good alternative and addition to other modes of public transport, and it can help people cut their travel times. In some places it will help reduce the load on motorways.
I suggest holding a comprehensive discussion on creating a route network for passenger service within the Unified Deep Water System of the European part of Russia through 2035. This might seem like a remote prospect, but these are all long-term projects. We must have a clear vision of where infrastructure needs to be developed and what kind of fleet we need to expand passenger service.
All these projects are, of course, complicated and very costly, and their implementation will require public-private investment mechanisms. Especially since businesses, many companies are interested in economically effective shipping operations like the use of river transport.
To expand passenger and cargo service, we certainly need to upgrade and expand the riverboat fleet. We have a roadmap for building civilian water carriers through 2035. The roadmap envisions building about 1,000 vessels, including for river shipping.
Let’s discuss how this roadmap is being implemented, and what additional support measures are needed to meet our goals for ship and boat fleet. Let me also remind you that this year, in order to meet the goals, we made a decision to finance shipbuilding plans for 260 vessels in 2023–2027 using the funds from the National Welfare Fund.
Let’s think about how we can expand this programme both in terms of the number of vessels and in terms of funding. I would like to ask the Government to identify specific parameters with an emphasis on vessels for passenger operations. Increasing this fleet will make travelling and voyages on water more accessible and comfortable.
The head of this port has just spoken about the growing public interest in this type of travel and this kind of tourism. Young people are increasingly using these alternatives.
Of course, it is important to improve port infrastructure, including piers and other facilities. Today, we will talk, among other things, about charging stations for these electric boats.
Mr Sobyanin said there was a problem – not enough charging stations and piers for electric riverboats, actually, there were practically none at all. He said they had to start everything from scratch, and building this infrastructure turned out to be even more difficult than the boats.
Let’s get to work and talk about all this.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much. I would like to thank everyone for this work.
I do not need to repeat the importance of the issue we are discussing. This concerns the growth of the economy in general, development of industry and the connectivity of our territories. Intensive use of waterways is a very serious matter.
Summing up our discussion, I would like to make several remarks.
First, it is extremely important to ensure proper conditions for the development of water passenger transport. Our colleagues have talked about the development of domestic tourism and its potential contribution to GDP. It is necessary to create the required route network for this purpose.
To reach this goal, we must eliminate the limiting, narrow sections of the Uniform Deep Water System of European Russia. Some of you talked about this in detail. We must provide a guaranteed depth for the effective development of water navigation.
In this context, I would like to ask the Government, in cooperation with the regions, to determine the priority waterways for navigation. In principle, they have been listed, and now it comes down to funding. We need to decide what comes first and to prioritise the list and determine the amount of funding needed. We need to adopt the necessary measures on funding and make provisions for this funding in full starting in 2026. Otherwise, as our colleagues said, these bottlenecks will become an even bigger problem, and boats won’t be able to navigate – and that would be the end of it.
I would also like to ask you to pay attention to reconstruction of the Moscow Canal. It provides navigation and water reserves in central Russia but needs modernisation. I would like to ask the Government and the concerned regions to start implementing the programme on its reconstruction no later than in 2025.
Furthermore, we need to think about implementing the proposals made today by the Moscow Mayor. They include, in particular, regulations for operating water services. It is clear that the traffic police are supervising the roads and the water police are supervising the waterways, but the regulations for operation must be seriously reviewed. This is important for both users and businesses.
Of course, regarding the development of river transport we shouldn’t forget about environmental issues. Mr Kozlov talked about this and many of you also mentioned this challenge. This must be the basic priority and the basic principle.
It is necessary to expand the use of green transport on our waterways. This basically means the electric boats that we discussed at the beginning. They make it possible to reduce the negative impact on our rivers. It is necessary to create the relevant infrastructure for such eco-friendly fleet, including charging stations that were mentioned several times.
To modernise the river passenger fleet, we need to fine tune the existing mechanism of support for the purchase and leasing of these vessels. We must considerably expand the fleet, and this will require further funding. I will not get ahead of our discussion and talk about the sources for this funding or determine the respective responsibility of the regions versus the federal government, but it is necessary to thoroughly discuss this and make the necessary decisions.
The main point is to develop a convenient and economically efficient mechanism for accelerated upgrade of riverboat fleet.
Furthermore, to support domestic shipbuilders and shipping companies – I understand nobody objects to this, including the Ministry of Finance – it is necessary to extend, at federal level, the current tax and insurance premium benefits. The regional authorities must make prompt decisions after 2025 on lifting the property tax on capital investment in navigation facilities and hydraulic structures.
As I understand, Mr Tsydenov talked about this issue and nobody objects to it in general. It is just necessary to make these decisions without delay. This measure proved to be good, but it would be even better if new facilities are built.
We must carefully analyse all the proposals. Of course, the federal authorities may think that some issues require special attention or discussion. But colleagues, I would just ask you not to let it drag out. Mr Savelyev, it is necessary to work with everyone, with the State Council Commission, to adopt a revised resolution on this as soon as possible. It should be revised in accordance with the results of today’s discussion.
Mr Savelyev, how much time will it take to accomplish this? What do you think?
Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev: Two weeks will be ok.
Vladimir Putin: It’s a deal.
I would like to thank everyone for today’s work.