Andrei Makarov: How Russian Railways is Handling Construction during Pandemic

Andrei Makarov: “We are building up our efforts at the Eastern training ground” |  First person

Railway construction in the country at the time of quarantine related to the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop. The builders took advantage of the new opportunities provided by the development of digital technologies, showed a creative approach and found mutual understanding with the authorities. About why the construction schedule of the holding facilities, despite the epidemic, as a whole does not lag behind the target, said Andrei Makarov, Deputy General Director of Russian Railways for construction issues.

– Andrey Sergeyevich, the pandemic froze the work of many enterprises for almost three months. How will this generally affect the plan for the construction and reconstruction of Russian Railways infrastructure?

– The Russian Ministry of Labor explained that the decree of the President of the Russian Federation (on non-working days. – Ed.) Does not apply to workers of construction organizations whose suspension would endanger the safety, health and life of people, as well as organizations engaged in urgent repair and loading and unloading operations .

The construction process includes work that cannot be stopped. This is concrete laying on monolithic massifs, complex excavation work, installation work, providing structural rigidity, and others.

To minimize disruptions in the delivery of goods in this process, an agreement was reached with the leadership of the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Communal Services of the Russian Federation on the provision of a “green corridor” for delivery of construction materials and equipment to construction sites. The construction process was not stopped due to a malfunction in the rhythmic supply cycle of material resources.

– How did you manage to prevent outbreaks of the disease at construction sites and not break schedule?

– Interaction was organized with the Rospotrebnadzor for the admission of builders. Regions are taking additional measures to ensure sanitary and epidemiological well-being, and in some regions there is an observational regime for arriving people.
To ensure a continuous production cycle at the construction sites, shift crews and observational requirements for new arrivals were organized. We proposed to implement an observational regime at construction sites in compliance with all measures and recommendations of Rospotrebnadzor and under the supervision of their local representatives, but without stopping the construction process.
Separation of the flows of newly arrived and departed workers from the shift was organized, including separate temporary accommodation. On the day of arrival, employees are tested for coronavirus infection, the result of which a decision is made on admission to work. Contacts between employees at the facility that are not related to common tasks and production processes are limited. For this, work is organized in several shifts, and employees are accommodated no more than four people in one room.

This initiative allowed us to maintain the continuity of the production cycle, to comply with safety requirements, the regulation of labor and rest. In the regions, interactions have been worked out in case a patient is detected at a construction site. Interaction with RZD-Medicine was established to provide a full range of medical services.

– The quarantine situation itself, when it was necessary to limit contacts between specialists, contributed to the development of digital technologies in construction?

– During quarantine, some of the employees were transferred to remote mode. Most of the document approval processes have been converted to electronic form; paperless technologies are also used in production. 292 virtual workstations for 3D design were organized.

We have reduced the number of visits to facilities, we leave as necessary and in compliance with all necessary protective measures in accordance with the recommendations of the Federal Service for Supervision of Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare. At the same time, we can see what is happening at the contractors’ facilities and without trips, since there are video cameras and the picture is displayed in our center. Digital technology is very helpful during this difficult period.

However, not everyone can work remotely. Our inspection team is forced to go to the facilities, because it is necessary to sign acceptance certificates, reconciliations of unexpected work records and other documents. Inspectors are constantly at risk, but preventative measures are followed. Fortunately, we had no outbreaks of the disease.

– In the Murmansk region on June 1, because of the flood, the bridge on the Kola River collapsed and the railway traffic with an important and large city and port stopped. How fast will it be able to recover?

– Our task is to restore this bridge as quickly as possible. It is being designed by JSC Lengiprotrans, and a few days after the collapse, three drilling rigs, more than two dozen prospectors and designers worked there. The basic design scheme has been developed – it will be a metal bridge with a span of 110 m. The metal has already been delivered to the site. A team of builders arrived from Moscow – they started installing new supports and assembling the span on the slipway. We need to mobilize as much as possible and open the movement in October.

– What new technologies have entered the practice of railway construction over the past three to four years and what is the building block working on now?

– First of all, those that allow you to work in tight urban conditions. These are communications outflows and network transfers under railway tracks with minimal damage to the embankment by means of horizontal directional drilling using innovative materials. We mastered them at the construction sites of the Moscow transport hub and the main passage Moscow – St. Petersburg.
I can also note the construction of tunnels by pressing. This technology was patented by Russian Railways together with Austrian colleagues. May certification tests in
VNIIZhT passed domestic monolithic slabs for the upper track structure, which are necessary for the construction of a high-speed highway.

We purchased new domestic equipment and production by Liebherr to work on the technology of separate laying of the track top structure. Now our problem is that the heavy equipment of the Central Directorate for repairing the track is difficult and uneconomical to use inside the cities. And the technology of separate stacking allows you to mechanize the process, which was previously done largely with the help of manual labor.

Until the end of this year, we plan to ensure the use of new technology in the design of facilities of Russian Railways. A number of pilot projects have been selected for this. In this part, we are actively supported by the Ministry of Construction of Russia and the FAA Glavgosexpertiza of Russia. In particular, we have concluded a cooperation agreement with Glavgosexpertiza.

At the same time, we initiated a number of necessary research projects related to the development of both appropriate classifiers and the construction ontology and various methods. Without this, the new technology will not fully work.

Analysis of the assessment of the economic efficiency of using BIM technology showed that it can significantly increase economic efficiency both at the level of individual investment and construction projects, and at the level of the organization as a whole. This is due to changes in the cost of projects, net present value, profitability, payback period, saving financial resources at various stages of the life cycle of the facility.

Reducing construction time leads to significant savings in financial resources for staff wages, the use of machines and mechanisms. High project accuracy leads to more systematic procurement planning and, as a result, is reflected in economic efficiency.

To increase the efficiency of the construction process, Russian Railways organized cooperation with Rosatom State Corporation in the exchange of experience and improvements at construction sites. A joint mapping of the construction process of stopping points Sanino, Minsk in the Kiev direction of the Central transport hub was carried out. The main losses were identified at the junctions of interaction between different participants in the construction process. To minimize and eliminate them, training sessions were held for 30 employees of Russian Railways and key contracting organizations together with specialists from Rosatom State Corporation. Based on the results of the trainings, a road map has been developed and is being implemented.

The Minsk platform was defined as a pilot construction site for implementing best practices (a designed stopping point in the Kiev direction of the Moscow Railway with access to the street of the same name. – Ed.). We are talking about the effective organization of the workspace, storage and movement of materials, improving production control and analysis, organizing the work of the information center of the construction manager. The set of tasks is designed for several months. Several areas were selected as priority measures, such as improving and shortening the time for tenders for the supply of equipment, accelerating the processes of coordination and approval of work plans, approval certificates and redundancy of “windows” on the infrastructure. All participants in the process will be involved in the work – from the customer and designers to suppliers and contractors.

We hope that these projects will positively affect the organization and conduct of construction and installation works, and will increase the efficiency and flexibility of decision-making.

– JSC Russian Railways intends to reduce the investment program by 200 billion rubles for this year, and reductions are anticipated in terms of the facilities being designed. What exactly will these measures affect?

– Previously, we are really talking about a reduction by this amount, although it can still be clarified. But I want to draw attention to the fact that according to our main projects – designing the second stage of the development of the Eastern training ground, the project to accelerate container transportation (“Trans-Siberian Railway in 7 Days”), approaches to Murmansk and the Azov-Black Sea ports – the design is in full swing. Therefore, the company “Roszheldorproject” we are increasing requests for the issuance of project documentation.
The Board of Directors of Russian Railways has postponed for the future small facilities related to passenger facilities, train complexes and energy. Small reductions affected almost every household.

– When the reconstruction of the Eastern training ground began, there was initially a plan to make it as low-maintenance as possible, since there are a shortage of personnel in the eastern regions of the country. Did you manage to implement your plan?

– The project began to be implemented back in 2013, and most of the project documents relate to 2015-2016. Those innovative technologies that were worked out for that period of time are used at the Eastern training ground. This mainly concerns power supply and centralization, interlocking and communication systems. There, in particular, microprocessors are used that do not require maintenance personnel and increase throughput.

But the newest developments, which began to be used just a couple of years ago, we prescribe in terms of the second stage of reconstruction. This is the new ABTC-MSh auto-lock (mobile block sections), MPC-EL microprocessor centralization, and even more advanced systems. Such technologies will allow at the end of the second stage in 2024 to increase the throughput capacity of the landfill by one and a half times, up to 180 million tons per year, and container transportation by four times.

– The leadership of the country pays special attention to the eastern training ground. Will it be possible to finish the first stage at the end of the year?

– As part of the first stage in 2020, we need to reach the upper limit of the target capacity indicator specified in the project passport – 124.9 million tons. And for this we must hand over about 200 objects this year.

Yes, we are stepping up our efforts at the Eastern training ground. But a significant part of shift workers from the European part of the country work there, and during the quarantine period many are afraid to go, some units cannot staff. With the removal of restrictions, construction companies still plan to recruit the required number of workers. Today, the main thing is to deliver the necessary number of people and equipment there. There are no secondary facilities where time could be saved.


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