To Ulyanovsk and Cheboksary on weekends: Tatarstan Fleet opens navigation on the Volga

Federal authorities did not have time to coordinate subsidies for interregional transportation by the beginning of navigation, so the cost of tickets remained “floating”

To Ulyanovsk and Cheboksary on weekends: Tatarstan Fleet opens navigation on the Volga
Photo: Динар Фатыхов

“There will be no reduction or expansion of “social” routes this year. We are sailing exactly according to the schedule of 2023 (that is, within Tatarstan). But on the other hand, we are launching interregional trips to Ulyanovsk and Cheboksary on a regular basis," Roman Lizalin, the director general of the Tatarstan Fleet, told reporters at the opening ceremony of passenger navigation in 2024. No special growth in passenger traffic is expected, as 18 of the 28 river vessels purchased from Tatflot will depart, but two new Zelenodolsk Meteors on interregional lines are likely to receive federal subsidies. The weak point remains the online ticket sales programme — it is promised to be finalised by the beginning of summer.

Tatarstan Fleet is launching 16 river vessels for navigation

In the morning of 28 April, the two-deck river ship Moscow solemnly set off from the river port of Kazan to Verkhny Uslon (Pechishchi), opening passenger navigation in 2024. Strictly speaking, the first flight on this route was carried out the day before, but the unified operator of river transportation in Tatarstan, the Fleet of the Republic of Tatarstan, decided to celebrate the start of navigation for real on the weekend.

Flags were raised to the anthems of Russia and Tatarstan, after which the cadets of the Kazan branch of the Volga State University of Water Transport marched along the pier of the river port.

“Opening navigation for any riverman is always exciting… We did not waste time in vain — we tried to carry out repair and personnel work in a short time," Roman Lizalin, the head of the Fleet of the Republic of Tatarstan, whose state-owned company was established a year ago, greeted the audience.

The main goal is social transportation. It is for these tasks that the operator is going to bring nine river ships to the Volga this year, inherited from its predecessor, Tatflot (owned by the head of the Kazan PSO, Ravil Ziganshin). It seems that it was possible to restore and obtain permission to operate only a third of the fleet of ships that were purchased from the Kazan production and construction association.

“In total, Tatflot has transferred 28 river vessels, they are in different technical condition. And those that remained under the water, they did not buy them out," Roman Lizalin admitted.

“Sailing according to the schedule of 2023"

The “grid” of social river routes has not changed this year. “There will be no reduction or expansion of “social” routes this year. We swim according to the schedule of 2023 (that is, within Tatarstan)," said Lizalin.

Trips will be operated in four to five directions, as before. Most often, gardeners and summer residents run to Pechishch and Verkhny Uslon, Naberezhnye and Pustye Morkvashi, and tourists like to go to Sviyazhsk. Despite that the fleet of river vessels on these lines has not been updated, ticket prices have increased by 20%. Apparently, you will have to pay extra for the more expensive fuel.

Simultaneously with the fleet of river vessels, the Fleet of the Republic of Tatarstan JSC received berthing walls in trust in Kazan, Sviyazhsk and is going to receive them in Chistopol, where a large reconstruction of the embankment is underway, Roman Lizalin said. But this did not happen everywhere — for example, the mooring wall and the port in Tetyushy remained with the former operator, Tatflot.

But the biggest pain is the titular building of the Kazan river port, which remained preserved by the former owner.

“This is a sick story, the building does not belong to us," Roman Lizalin shared his feelings. Since the first days of its creation, plans have been hatched for the reconstruction of the adjacent territory. “Here a three-storey building suggests itself, I have it in my head, I'm dreaming — and I'm dreaming. And we would like to move the control room to the corner. So far, this is the limit of dreams, since it is not possible to buy out the building.

To Cheboksary — for 700 rubles, to Ulyanovsk — for a thousand

A special breakthrough should not be expected in the direction of interregional transportation.

“This year we are launching inter-regional flights to Ulyanovsk and Cheboksary on a regular basis," Roman Lizalin said. “Every day they will run to Ulyanovsk only on holidays. The rest of the time — only on Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Flights to Cheboksary will run more often, but will begin by the end of May.

New high-speed vessels Mikhail Devyataev and Musa Dzhalil, built by Zelenodolsk Shipyard, will run here. The ticket price is “floating”. In May, it will amount to 1 thousand rubles on the Kazan — Ulyanovsk route and 700 rubles on the Kazan — Cheboksary route. For comparison, tourist operators are already offering trips along the Volga at a price of 900 rubles for 1.5 hours of sailing.

It is expected that tariffs for interregional flights will be subsidised by the federal authorities and the budgets of both regions upon completion of flights, Roman Lizalin said.

“Initially, we wanted 1/3 to come from the federal subsidy and 2/3 from the regions. Currently, the federal programme for subsidising interregional river transportation is on the way out, but has not yet been signed. But it includes three regions of the Volga Federal District — Tatarstan, Chuvashia and Nizhny Novgorod region, which have already taken on the burden of subsidising flights, and federal resources would ease the burden. We see their interest and hope that our federal colleagues will be involved in expanding interregional river transport.

Luiza Ignatyeva

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