LONDON — Brunswick Rail, one of Russia's leading rail car leasers, has bought 70 open coal cars for delivery in the next two months as a test phase of a new generation of rail cars planned for production in Russia, the company said Thursday.
"Brunswick Rail is pleased to contribute to bringing a fundamentally new type of rail car to the Russian market," said deputy CEO Vladimir Khoroshilov.
"The situation today is such that simply increasing the size of the fleet will not actually solve the rail car deficit problem," he added.
An acute shortage of rail cars is the most serious bottleneck in Russia's coal infrastructure, currently preventing the country from ramping up exports.
Private transport firms such as Brunswick, which operates a fleet of 16,000 modern rail cars, have emerged in recent years to fill a growing market, not fully met by state rail operator RZD.
Most of RZD's fleet is more than 15 years old, and many cars are literally falling apart. For years, chunks of rusted metal from the cars have had to be extracted with magnets from coal cargoes to avoid damaging equipment at power plants.
The new-generation gondolas will be supplied by CJSC Promtraktor-Vagon, managed by Tractor Plants Group, which is part of Machinery & Industrial Group N.V.
The gondolas will be fitted with Amsted Rail bogies and will need less frequent servicing and carry greater loads than current Russian rail cars, Khoroshilov said.
They will be tested by representatives of the leasing and manufacturing companies involved. If successful, commercial production of the new-style rail cars will start in Russia.
"There are a number of similarities between the Russian and U.S. freight markets," said Marcus Montenecourt, Amsted managing director for Russia and the CIS. "We believe the heavy haul rail car market in Russia will continue to grow, which in turn should increase the overall efficiency of the Russian freight transportation system."