There is a plan to develop and implement a pilot project to create a regional passenger railway company, which will be called Slobozhanschyna, in the Kharkiv region.

This plan was considered at a meeting of the Kharkiv regional council’s Standing Committee on Development of Transport and Communications on February 26, the CFTS portal reports.

The intention is to create a company that will operate based on the public-private partnership model. It is proposed that the project should be financed with funds from central and local budgets, loan funds, the participating enterprises’ own funds, and other sources.

According to the standing committee’s head and former head of the Pivdennyi Railways Viktor Ostapchuk, this will increase the quality and safety of suburban passenger transportation.

“We have prepared a roadmap for the project. We will be able to ensure that the company will serve the suburbs of Kharkiv this year if the council decides to implement it. The first will be the Kharkiv region, Derhachi after that, and Kupiansk, Izium, Krasnohrad by the end of the year. The company has invited the Kryukov Railcar Building Works (as an investor), the city of Kharkiv, and other interested parties. It will be possible to implement a single electronic ticket program within the framework of the project," Ostapchuk said.

According to the Kharkiv regional council, the draft decision "On Amendment of the Program for Economic and Social Development of the Kharkiv Region for 2021,” which was approved by the regional council’s decision No. 24-VIII dated 24 December 2020, provides for creation of a passenger railway company.

According to the City X regional publication, the authors of the initiative are promising that the pilot project will make travel on commuter trains comfortable, replace old trains with modern ones in the future, resume direct train services to Kharkiv from all regional centers and cities, and open new routes. The Slobozhanschyna company plans to implement the “City Train” project in the future, using the access roads of industrial enterprises in Kharkiv.

"We want the new rolling stock to be manufactured domestically. We also plan to have Ukrzaliznytsia JSC as a shareholder of the regional company, contributing electric trains, Skoda railway buses, etc. to its authorized capital," the publication quoted Ostapchuk as saying.

Councilors plan to submit the issue for consideration at the next session of the Kharkiv regional council on 11 March 2021. They also intend to appeal to the president of Ukraine to support the Slobozhanschyna project.

As reported, Ukrzaliznytsia stated earlier this year that one of the options for solving the problem of the unprofitability of suburban rail transport was "a suburban transport model that will include independent ownership and management of rolling stock, depots, etc. by local executive agencies.”