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    Repeat: Railways' losses from subsidized passengers could double in 2006

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    SOCHI, May 19 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Railways (RZD) said Friday its losses from subsidized passenger transportation could double in 2006 to 2 bln rubles ($74 million).

    Fyodor Andreyev, the company's senior vice president, said state financing of railway transportation had dropped from 5.9 bln rubles ($218.5 mln) in 2005 to 3.9 bln rubles ($144 mln) this year.

    Certain categories including pensioners, members of parliament, and holders of some Soviet and Russian state decorations get heavily subsidized - in some cases free - transport on Russia's railways.

    Andreyev also said RZD had petitioned the government to allocate about 10 bln rubles ($370 mln) for budget financing of passenger transportation in 2007.

    The company's total passenger transportation losses in 2005 stood at 56 billion rubles ($2.1 bln).

    RZD and German industry giant Siemens Friday signed a 600-mln-euro ($765-million) deal on the supply and servicing of eight high-speed passenger trains. The trains, capable of reaching 250 kilometers per hour, will run between Moscow and St. Petersburg as early as at the end of 2009, and then between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod in the Volga region.

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