Proposals for reforming the railway sector considered
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- On 25 September 2023, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a meeting on improving the railway sector.
Over the past seven years, the number of industrial enterprises in Uzbekistan has grown to 110 thousand. More than 2 thousand new types of products have been mastered. Last year, export volumes increased 1.6 times and reached US$19 billion. As a result, cargo turnover in the country increased by 30 percent.
For countries such as Uzbekistan, which do not have direct access to the world’s oceans, rail is the most convenient and cheapest transport. But now only 5 percent of products on the domestic market and 45 percent of export goods are transported by rail. That is, Uzbekistan Railways JSC cannot compete with transporting goods by road.
The industry has not been reformed for many years, and a modern management system has not been introduced. At the same time, due to external factors, transportation and logistics costs have increased. As a result, both the income of the joint-stock company and the quality of services remain low.
In particular, the shortage of cars and the obsolescence of their fleet were pointed out. The current tariffs and management model make it difficult for the private sector to participate in the industry. The revenues of most stations do not cover expenses. The level of digitalization remains insufficient. The population is dissatisfied with the level of service at train stations, limited access to central stations, inconvenient location of parking lots, corruption in the sale of tickets, conditions, and service in carriages.
After analyzing these problems, proposals for reforming the industry were discussed at the meeting.
Thus, it is planned to transform the Uzbekistan Railways JSC into a holding company and introduce modern management, organize separate enterprises, and divide the functions of infrastructure maintenance, freight transportation and logistics, passenger transportation, and station management.
The Head of state approved these proposals and gave additional instructions to improve efficiency in the industry. The need to ensure transparent accounting and attract foreign specialists and investments to enterprises without state guarantees was emphasized.
It was decided to create attractive tariffs for the private sector and provide loans to entrepreneurs to purchase cars. The possibility of building modern shopping complexes around central stations and putting up space in the stations themselves for auction was noted. Identified vacant areas around railway stations can be allocated for logistics and production projects.
The task has been set with the Ministry of Digital Technologies to establish electronic registration of cargo documents, install GPS on wagons, and launch an online warehouse based on the “single window” principle.
The importance of taking inventory of non-core assets of Uzbekistan Railways and directing funds from their sale to improve railway infrastructure was emphasized.
Since most freight trains enter the capital and regional centers, the traffic intensity at the stations increases. In this regard, the need to consider the possibility of moving freight stations outside cities was noted. This will reduce freight traffic in cities and attract additional investment in districts.
The Transport Prosecutor was tasked with ensuring that all railway crossings are regulated for the safety of citizens and road traffic.
Issues of improving staff qualifications and quality of service were also raised.
The Head of state emphasized that the result of reforming the sector should be the creation of a railway system that would satisfy the population and entrepreneurs.
Responsible persons reported on the issues discussed at the meeting.