Pricing – Belarussian railways

We were in Belarus a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been sorting out photos.

rail fares Polotsk 815 2

This one shows part of a big sign board at Polotsk station. It shows the fares on the line to Vitebsk (Битебск), our destination. To me there are three interesting things about this board:

(1) Its existence, making train fares more transparent than in other systems.

(2) The extraordinary cheapness of the fares. While we were there, the Belarus ruble was about 17000 to the euro (today it is nearly 20000). The crows-flight cost of our journey to Vitebsk was 0,8 eurocents/km. This is 40 times less than the average fare I pay (32 eurocents/km) and 6 times less than the previous cheapest (a bus from Lourdes to Gavarnie in France, in the summer of 2013).

(3) On the one hand there is no differentiation by ticket class, time of day etc. On the other hand there is a strong differentiation by distance. The fare per km for a journey of 102 km is 42% of the fare per km for a journey of 4 km.

Presumably, in the Belarussian system these are purely regulatory rather than commercial decisions.

One sees similar strong differentiation by distance in many urban transport systems and some regional ones (eg Stockholm).

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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