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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

RZD Criticized for Halting Foreign-Owned Freight Cars

Russian Railways, or RZD, might be breaking anti-monopoly laws by refusing to allow foreign-owned rail cars rented by Russian freight companies to run on its tracks, a Federal Anti-Monopoly Service official said Thursday, a day after the service said it was considering filing charges against RZD over the move.

Last month, more than 1,000 freight cars from CIS and Baltic countries were brought to a standstill after RZD introduced an automated logistics system that left non-Russian freight cars in limbo without legal paperwork.

Before the new system was introduced Feb. 15, regulations for clearing freight cars rented abroad for domestic travel, including a requirement to follow set routes, were not rigorously enforced, RZD spokesman Valery Zudin said Thursday.

Viktor Yevpakov, head of the anti-monopoly service's department for rail transportation, said another problem was RZD's refusal to register non-RZD-owned legally cleared freight cars. He said the anti-monopoly service had received several complaints about such refusals by RZD, including one complaint involving 400 freight cars. Yevpakov acknowledged that the current regulations for foreign freight cars were outdated.

The Transportation Ministry on Monday accused RZD of overstepping its authority in stopping the rail cars. On Tuesday, the ministry said it would soon revise the regulations.

All freight cars currently held up have been emptied of cargo, and RZD would address any complaints over freight car registration, Zudin said.

The new logistics system works by automatically checking every freight car's number against a database and alerting RZD employees if a car lacks proper legal documentation, Zudin said.

RZD regulations require foreign-owned freight cars not used for international transportation to be cleared by customs, pay fees, be registered at a Russian railway station and have a set route.