Speaking today at InnoTrans in Berlin, Yakunin says that given the time it is taking the Russian government to establish a funding structure for the proposed Moscow - St Petersburg high-speed line, the objective set out by RZD to complete the project by 2018 will not be met.

Yakunin says that he defines high-speed as rail services above 250km/h which will require investments in new infrastructure in Russia. Delays to the project have been caused by the lack of an adequate funding structure for the estimated Roubles 696bn ($US 19.28bn) line. Yakunin is though optimistic that the Russian government will approve a new funding structure for Russian infrastructure projects by the end of the year which will enable RZD to proceed.

"This structure has never been used in Russia before," he says adding that despite the delays the Russian government continues to support RZD's high-speed objectives.

"From the point of view of the prime minister [Mr Dimitriy Medvedev] it is obvious that Russia needs to develop infrastructure for high-speed trains," Yakunin says. "It is not just a key project in terms of Russian Railways, it is an essential mode of transport for the Russian people and for generating something that will develop the economy."

Yakunin also said that plans for an IPO for a portion of RZD will only proceed "when the time is right" which he say might be around 2016 if market conditions favour such a move. He compared the situation in Russia to Britain´s privatisation of its rail network in the 1990s stating that "to be fast is not necessarily to be successful" adding that he would continue to observe and work with partners at European railways on the issue.