Following an agreement signed between the Russian government and RZD in 2019, the company created a quantum communications department, along with a steering committee which has since held its first meeting via video conference.

“The development of quantum communications technology will allow the creation of a comprehensive secure infrastructure for the digital economy, a public administration system, which is especially important given the modern threats to information security,” says RZD deputy general director and chief engineer, Mr Sergey Kobzev.

Quantum communication takes advantage of the laws of quantum physics to protect data to create ultra-secure networks. Data is transmitted using particles such as photons which cannot be replicated.

RZD says the first tests on its infrastructure showed there was a possibility of building highly secure national and regional networks based on advanced Russian quantum communication technologies.

The road map is the result of joint work between RZD, centres of competence and experts in the field, as well as state authorities. The agreement includes the development of nine priority technologies and 15 products by 2024, and outlines more than 35 performance targets, including production and sales volumes, the length of quantum networks, the level of technology readiness, security frameworks and other parameters.

RZD and the Russian government are looking to develop a domestic industry, create markets for goods and services, achieve technological leadership, and form a professional community of researchers and engineers. This will involve the participation of a wide range of participants and partners in areas such as research and development, equipment manufacturing, ecosystem development and financing.

The possibility of an experimental quantum network connecting Moscow and St Petersburg, which would stretch for 800km, is currently being explored.

“Russian Railways intends to involve the widest possible number of interested participants and partners in the process of developing quantum communications, and is extremely open to new joint projects,” Kobzev says.