by Laura Johnstone

Russia. Famously a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Spanning continents the largest country in the world by land area with a population of just over 140 million. Part of the European continent ever since Swedish military geographer Philip Johan von Strahlenberg after years of Russian captivity proposed the Ural Mountains as the new European border in 1730. An integral part of the BRIC grouping – Brazil Russia India and China – of fast growing  – and fast changing – powers.

The sheer scale of Russia – nine time zones currently albeit down from 11 a few years ago – coupled with relatively harsh weather conditions and some very large cities certainly provides plenty of transport challenges – but transport has always been a political priority. As Igor Levitin Russian Minister of Transport put it at the Ministerial Conference on Global Environment and Energy in Transport in 2009 “Due to the geographical peculiarities of the Russian Federation and those of the territorial location of its production forces transport has always been considered in Russia as a key economic sector providing for the country’s economic and political integrity”. You only have to look at the Trans-Siberian Railway to see the historical truth of this statement!

Taking Moscow as an example a city of 12 million people with freezing cold winters and stifling hot summers average jams last for 2.5 hours the longest in the world – but apparently only the eight worst a subtle distinction. With 2.6 million cars in the city on a daily basis a lack of parking space is also on the list of problems.

What with all of this it should come as no surprise that the development and subsequent deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems in Russia can be viewed both as a newly emerging and as a rapidly maturing market. A swift catching up as it were or as Vladimir Kryuchkov CEO of ITS Russia put it in an earlier interview with ERTICO “The engine of ITS deployment in Russia has been started”.

Official governmental interest in ITS was signalled with a major conference hosted by the Russian Government in Moscow in 2009. The first Russian Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems closely followed the Russian government’s approval of its national transport development strategy till the year 2030. The Congress highlighted the importance of road safety systems transport infrastructure development advanced traffic management systems.

As Mr Levitin put it “In some major cities such as Moscow Saint Petersburg Nizhny Novgorod which are in a critical situation with regard to road congestion a range of measures is under way aimed to increase capacity of the cities’ road network limit the use of personal vehicles and motivate the population to use public passenger transport. The understanding is growing gradually that the limited access of personal and cargo vehicles to central parts of the cities and more tough parking policy are inevitable. Modern intelligent traffic management systems are being introduced as well as systems of cargo traffic management systems of informing drivers on traffic situation all of them operating of the basis of GLONASS navigation system”.

Informal talks about between Europe and Russia on how to cooperate successfully in the field of ITS had been going on for some years beforehand. Russia also participated in the European Commission funded SIMBA II project in 2008 which served to strengthen road transport research cooperation between Europe and emerging international markets.

In September 2010 ERTICO and ITS Russia signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The MoU provides a framework for cooperation acknowledging both Europe and Russia face similar challenges in the area of transport research and development and the subsequent deployment of innovation and technology.

In early 2011 as a one result from the MoU ERTICO – ITS Europe and NIS GLONASS with the support of ITS Russia founded the eCall/ERA GLONASS Working Group. NIS a Russian public-private company is tasked with developing and deploying the ERA Terminal GLONASS system throughout the Russian Federation in the form of GLONASS satellite navigation communication devices (terminals) fitted in all new vehicles sold in the country. In the event of an accident the terminal is automatically activated and transmits the vehicle location and other key information to an emergency response centre allowing the swift intervention of the emergency services. The ERA-GLONASS system will help to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries on Russia’s roads and enhance the safety of both freight and passenger transport. In addition NIS plans to develop commercial applications for GLONASS and create a mainstream market for navigation services and devices.

At this time the communication carrier for the ERA GLONASS system will be over the 3G communication network. This will require additional infrastructure to be provided to ensure that there is sufficient coverage not only in the Cities but also across the Russian strategic road network.  his will of course open up the possibilities for additional ITS devices to be utilised in Russia.

Over the last year meetings have been held on a regular basis in both Brussels and Moscow where the following actions have formed the core of the Working Group.

  • Discussion of eCall and ERA/GLONASS specifications in order to develop harmonised requirements where possible.
  • Proposals for solutions in areas which are not yet covered by the eCall specifications but which are considered to be of importance in both projects.
  • Suggestions for the best approach to the implementation of requirements in cases where they are mandatory in one project but not both.
  • Sharing of best practices in the areas of In-Vehicle System (IVS) development telecommunications solutions operational procedures and pilot testing.
  • Exchange of working documents concerning the standardisation of eCall and ERA GLONASS.
  • Participation in the planning and organisation of joint eCall/ERA GLONASS pilot projects.

The last meeting of the eCall/ERA GLONASS took place in early June 2012 and was followed by a bilateral meeting between ERTICO and ITS Russia which was highly successful and included the participation of representatives of the European Commission and Russian Ministry of Transport as well as a number of ERTICO and ITS Russia Partners and TISA. Areas highlighted for further cooperation include the pre-deployment of eCall through the HeERO pilot in parallel to developments in ERA GLONASS; harmonisation of ITS standards across the two regions; ITS for large events particularly in the context of the upcoming Sochi Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018; and traffic and traveller information in the context of transport corridors especially the Helsinki to St Petersburg corridor – where HeERO is active.

For further information on ERTICO activities in Russia please contact Laura Johnstone.

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Original Publication Date: Fri 15 Jun 2012