RUSSIAN TROIKA TO POOL IN RAIL & SEA ROUTES

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MOSCOW, September 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian Rail open-end joint-stock company Board has approved blueprints for a Russian Troika closed-end joint-stock company, authorised capital US$16 million. Russian Rail Co. is joining hands on the project with the Far Eastern Maritime Shipping Company open-end joint-stock company. Russian Rail PR were circulating a press release on the venture today.

The founders will each offer $8 million to the authorised capital. Another $45.4 million is expected from the outside. Troika rolling stock will be purchased out of the corporate founders' profits.

Freights are expected en masse from the rapidly progressing Asian and Pacific area to boost rail and maritime container shipments. Extended geography, transport services up to world standards, and cutting-edge platforms promise to shift many transport routes to Russia, says the release.

Project Russian Troika will allow to cut fares thanks to through services and a reduced number of intermediate non-railway carriers. The initial exploitation stage is expected to bring tariffs 13 per cent down. When the Troika affords to buy a ship, the cut will make a sizeable 18 or even 20 per cent of the present-day agent-sea-forwarding agent-railway-agent chain.

The founders have for today ordered ten container carrier ships-in particular, four in China, three in Poland, and two in Japan. Deliveries are to start next year, to finish toward the end of 2006.

The Russian Rail is among the world's leading transport companies. Proprietor of Russia's entire railway network, it accounts for 78.8 per cent rail transportation within the country at an annual exceeding 1.3 billion passengers and 1.2 billion tonnes of freights. Its authorised capital amounts to 1,545.2 billion roubles, roughly $55 billion. Revenues for the first half-year 2004 exceeded 310 billion roubles, with a net profit of 10.3 billion roubles.

The Far Eastern Maritime Shipping Office is Russia's largest container sea carrier, and the only whose ships, all without exception, fly the Russian flag. It possesses 77 cargo vessels-container carriers, refrigerator and bulk cargo ships, and many others plus four icebreakers in its management. Calculated on international standards, its last year's profit approached $360 million. Borrowed funds currently amount to $37 million.

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