“The full recovery of freight traffic volumes on the railways in Russia is expected in the first half of 2021,” Belozerov said during the online PRO//Motion.1520 international and transport logistics forum on October 22. “The pandemic became a serious challenge. We understood that the situation was absolutely not trivial and we had to react quickly. Our prompt response has demonstrated what RZD is now: a modern, flexible and innovative company.”

Belozerov says the company revised its decision-making processes and gave staff the authority to make the decisions necessary during the pandemic. The company also approved freight tariff discounts worth Roubles 10bn ($US 130m).

“We wanted to support everyone,” Belozerov says. “We offered special conditions. As a result, the railway network attracted an additional 18 million tonnes of various types of freight. At the same time, not only did we keep all our customers, but we also attracted new clients who had never worked with the railway.”

Initial forecasts predicted a drop in volumes of between 15 and 30% for 2020, but this has not materialised.

“The October results show that we have achieved the previous year’s loading volumes and reached the ‘green zone’,” he says. “We believe that this is a sustainable trend and some indicators will be exceeded by the end of the year compared with last year’s results.”

Intermodal traffic in particular grew by 18%, with traffic doubling on some routes.