The Russian Transport Ministry wants to tighten the procedure for assigning numbers to new railcars, which will essentially freeze the number freight cars in the country, the Kommersant publication writes, citing a draft ministerial order.

It is suggested that numbers should be issued to owners of railcars in exchange for writing off their old fleets or when they purchase innovative railcars (gondola cars with improved characteristics). It is actually an issue about controlling the entry of new trains onto the market because a railcar cannot operate without a number.

A source close to the Ministry of Transport said that the issue was about a temporary moratorium, but the draft order does not specify a period of action.

The fleet of freight cars in Russia consists of 1.2 million freight cars, of which about 500,000 are gondola cars. In the period of January-August, the freight loading volume on Russian railways fell by 1.4% to 808.4 million tons and the profitability of leasing railcars fell. Back in autumn 2013, the Russian Railways said that about 300,000 railcars were surplus and unnecessary and that they should be written off. Railcar manufacturers have long been lobbying for a transition from regular railcars to purchase innovative ones, which are more expensive.

According to a source among manufacturers, the order will result in shutdown of the majority of factories: Innovative railcars are produced only by the Tikhvin railcar plant and Uralvagonzavod. Freight shippers also oppose the order: the Siberian Coal Energy Company is claiming competitive violations and predicting a crisis in the railcar manufacturing industry. According to the Infoline Analyst agency’s head Mikhail Burmistrov, cargo owners are concerned that lease rates may rise in case of restrictions.

The Ministry of Economy has not yet received the Ministry of Transport’s draft order, and the Ministry of Industry has not yet decided on its position.