Russian state-run railroads suffer from reduced freight capacity due to Western sanctions on parts supplies that reduce locomotive engines available for cargo transport, especially in the last six months.

Since the end of 2023, the state-owned Russian railway (RZHD) has been facing a shortage of locomotives, as the volume of rolling stock repairs and their duration have increased significantly due to a lack of sanctioned imported parts.

The RZHD report is confirmed by sources of the Russian publication Vedomosti.

According to the representative of the state monopoly, the situation “particularly worsened” in the fourth quarter of 2023 and now RZHD is trying to solve this problem with service companies “as quickly as possible.”

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The source explained that nominally there are enough locomotives for cargo transportation, but in fact the ability of the Russian railway to transport them is decreasing.

The Sverdlovsk railway suffers the most due to massive downtime of locomotives in repair.

According to the source of the publication, who is close to RZHD, repairs are not carried out effectively, which is why locomotives often break down on the road.

Mikhail Burmistrov, general director of the Russian agency Infoline-Analytics, said that service companies should ensure the technical readiness ratio of the locomotive fleet at 95 percent, but by mid-2023 this figure fell to 93 percent, and in January 2024 it went even lower.

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In total, there are about 20,000 units of traction rolling stock of all types on the RZHD network. Lokotech (a structure of Transmashholding) is responsible for the repair of about 15,000 units, and STM-service is responsible for 5,000 units. Earlier, RZHD transferred the staff of its locomotive repair depots to the staff of these companies.

The representative of STM-service explained that due to sanctions, the service company had lost access to specialized lubricants, proprietary bearings, electronic components, etc.

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Burmistrov added that in addition to difficulties with the purchase of imported parts, there’s also a personnel shortage due to mobilization.

According to him, domestic equipment is now being actively put into operation in Russia, but it often breaks down due to “childhood diseases,” and there are not enough. In 2023, RZHD purchased 557of these new locomotives.

Western sanctions on spare parts seems to also be having a similar effect on Russian civilian aviation since Russia’s full-scale invasion, as reported in the Kyiv Post.

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