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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Train Ticket Prices Set to Jump 30%

Traveling by rail just got more expensive.

The price of train tickets is set to go up 30 percent Friday — a move the government said it hopes will help stem losses in the nation's rail passenger service.

"[The price hike] had to be done," Moscow Rail spokesman Konstantin Pashkov said Thursday. "Without it, everything would have collapsed."

The new prices will remain in effect at least through October and maybe through the end of the year, the Anti-Monopoly Ministry said. The ministry earlier this month allowed tariffs on passenger tickets to jump 30 percent on June 1 and cargo tariffs 17.5 percent on June 3.

The Railways Ministry, which has a monopoly on the nation's railroads, had asked for a 33 percent rise in the cargo tariff.

The new prices mean travelers now pay between 320 rubles and 700 rubles ($11 to $24) for a one-way trip to St. Petersburg, while the cost of rolling to Vladivostok is now between 2,290 rubles and 4,500 rubles.

Despite the price hike, however, the ministry said its passenger service would still operate at a loss.

According to its own data, the ministry lost nearly a billion dollars last year on its passenger service — 16 billion rubles on its long-distance operations and 11 billion from its suburban routes.

"The tariff was asked for to help keep up with inflation," Pashkov said. "Ticket sales only cover 30 percent of the cost of carrying a passenger."

Some people heard the news and rushed to get tickets, not knowing that the new prices applied even if tickets were purchased before June 1.

Standing at the end of a queue at one of Yaroslavsky Station's ticket windows, 8-year-old Anya said that she and her mother rushed down to get tickets for a trip to Vologda next month after hearing about the price hike on television.

"My mother heard the news on television and said that we have to buy the tickets today," Anya said.

Aside from a few confused passengers, however, officials said business was normal.

"It's difficult to monitor whether there is a surge, and it's unlikely that people will be buying up tickets because it's not always easy to plan your holiday far in advance," the press service of the Railways Ministry said Thursday.

"There has been no rush whatsoever," Pashkov said.

Pashkov also said that despite financial constraints, preparations for the peak July-August season were well underway and 5 million rubles had been spent on the effort.

"Today 20 percent of capacity on long-distance trains goes idle ... the situation might change in the peak time of July-August, but by then we will have extra trains. We are ready for that," he said, adding that Moscow Rail was adding carriages to trains to accommodate passengers.

In the three summer months of 2000, the ministry said some 14 million passengers left Moscow by train. The ministry expects this figure to grow 20 percent this year.

As for companies shipping products by train, next week's jump in cargo tariffs is being taken in stride.

"[The rise] has not in any way reflected on our scheduled flows," said Alexei Smirnov, senior vice president of UniTrans, one of the country's largest freight-forwarding companies, he said.