PROBLEMS IN THE INVESTMENT IN TRAMWAY INFRASTRUCTURE - A CASE STUDY IN UFA, RUSSIA
Mark Sellin, Mott MacDonald
This abstract uses the case study of the tramway in Ufa, Russia to illustrate the current state of the infrastructure, the issues surrounding the modernisation of the tramway together with potential problems outside of the tramway’s control.
This paper is a case study of an existing tramway in Ufa, Russia which describes the state of its infrastructure and the issues that face the city as it modernises its tram and trolleybus network. Although this case study focusses on Ufa, the same general lessons can be applied in many cities across the former USSR. This finds that not all of the issues are within the remit of the tramway company to correct but many require the intervention of the municipality.
Ufa is a city of approximately one million inhabitants located about 1,400 km east of Moscow at the western foothills of the Ural mountains. It is the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan as well as the administrative centre of the Municipality of Ufa. The city is one of the largest industrial centres of Russia including oil refining, petrochemicals and military jet engines as well as being an important transport hub. The city is situating on a promontory of land between the river Belaya and the river Ufa with the result that the urban area is long and thin (up to 30km by between 3 and 7 km wide).
The city is well served by public transport although electric modes carry less than one fifth of passengers of the approximate total of 250.5 million passengers carried in 2013:
• Tramway and trolleybus services (18.3% market share);
• State bus services (20.4% share); and
• Private bus operators (61.2% share).
The city council together with its transport agency, Ufagortrans, develops local transport policy and tenders all city bus services.
The tramway network is currently operated in two sections as the main link between them, along Prospect October, was abandoned previously as part of a former City Development Plan in 2008. The quality of the infrastructure overall is poor having received little maintenance over the years, although the tramway company make a good effort in ‘patching up’ so that services can continue to operate, albeit with fairly frequent service interruptions. The infrastructure in this context includes:
• Tram track, including special work at junctions;
• Overhead catenary, including traction poles;
• Power supply, including sub-stations and feeder cables; and
• Tram fleet.
The investment required is not easy to find locally and to this end the municipality has applied to the European Bank for reconstruction and Development (EBRD) for financing of a new 4.9 km link between the northern and southern networks and also the rehabilitation of the existing tram lines on the related route. However, there are wider issues that affect the public transport network in Ufa that would impact upon the willingness of any party to invest funds in the existing tramway network. These include the competition of existing trolleybus services (operated by the same company), the competition from state buses and private buses and in consequence the willingness of Ufagortrans to design and award the bus tenders to complement the electric networks.
The fare network operates on a flat fare basis with discounts for concessions, including retired persons and students, with no free transfers and different rates depending on mode. In fact just under half of all tram and trolleybus passengers were concessionary. In a city where journeys can be long, this has resulted in a low yield per passenger-km and a large number of routes that serve most passenger’s travel patterns without the requirement for a change.
Maintenance of the existing and any future improved asset can be judged against the management of the assets over time so that their life is extended. Local skills and construction techniques will have an impact on this as will the likelihood of funds being available in future years.
Therefore to ensure that any modernised tramway justifies the investment made to it there are several issues that need to be addressed out of the jurisdiction of the tramway company and which the municipality and its agencies will need to address.
Association for European Transport