YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The director general of Armenia’s rail network on Tuesday effectively confirmed its impending takeover by Russia’s state-run railway.
The Armenian government called last year an international tender for the exclusive right to manage the struggling network for at least 30 years. Only the Russian railway and an Indian firm showed interest in the bidding, sending relevant proposals to Yerevan earlier this year.
The Armenian Railway chief, Ararat Khrimian, told RFE/RL that the tender’s winner will be officially announced “after January 2008.” He said Russian management of his company would be “natural and correct” given that it used to be part of the Soviet Union’s vast rail network.
“It’s easier to work with a company of which used to be a part than with others,” said Khrimian. “In my view, it will be easy and beneficial for us to work with the Russia’s.”
According to Khrimian, more important is the fact that the new railway manager will have to invest at least $170 million in the Soviet-era network that has been operating at a fraction of its capacity ever since Armenia’s rail communication with the outside world was disrupted in 1992.
“Working in these blockade conditions, we have been unable to generate sufficient revenues to make capital investmen’s in our train fleet and other infrastructure,” said Khrimian. “The investmen’s will considerably improve the condition of our railway,” he added.