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The company hopes the project, which will be implemented by the Federal Passenger Company, a wholly-owned RZD subsidiary, will boost RZD’s revenues and offset losses from its heavily subsidised passenger carriage business.
“The Moscow-Kiev train has been selected for the pilot duty-free project. The project is intended to be launched with the introduction of the summer schedule from the last Sunday of May,” an RZD spokesman said on Monday.
Russian Railways is a major contributor to Russia’s fast growing economy.
Russia’s colossal and historic railway stretches along 85.2 thousand km of track.
Founded in 1837, it is one of the largest transport systems in the world.
“If the pilot project is successfully implemented, operators…will be selected through a tender,” the spokesman said.
The pilot duty-free project for trains running between Moscow and Kiev will run for a year, after which RZD will decide whether to extend the service to other trains, he said.
RZD announced in spring 2012 plans to organise duty-free trade on international trains, and said then it would open duty-free shops on Allegro bullet trains shuttling between St. Petersburg and Helsinki.
RZD also plans to open duty-free shops at Russian railway terminals.
Sergei Abramov, head of RZD railway terminal directorate has said the first such duty-free shop will open in early 2013 at St. Petersburg’s Vyborsky and then Finlyandsky railway stations.
Similar shops may later be opened in all Russian railway terminals with international links.
The Russian Association of Duty-Free Operators estimates there are about 30 duty-free operators in Russia selling goods in airports and aboard passenger planes.
Duty-free revenues totaled $1 billion last year, with sales aboard airliners accounting for just 10-15 per cent of that sum.