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61

(1923) [MARC] Author: Fridtjof Nansen - Tema: Russia
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RUSSIA’S TRANSPORT SERVICES 61
this percentage had fallen to 56 per cent. This means that
not only have the repairs been able to cover the current
needs, but that we have also repaired reserve material which
was in an unusable state. As regards the wagons, the posi
tion is more difficult. But none the less the monthly defi
ciency will be almost covered by the repairs.
The Russian railways actually transport at the present
time a quantity of goods equivalent to 30 per cent. of the
quantity transported before the war. Technically speaking,
they would be capable of transporting twice as much : on
some lines the goods in transit reached 60 per cent. or 70 per
cent. of the amount in 191 3.
If the Russian railways still show a large financial deficit
despite the efforts we are making to reduce the working
expenses, this is due to the much too small quantity of goods
that we have to transport. Our tariffs, even if they are very
high for the Russian home market, are nevertheless lower
according to the gold standard than they were before the
war. And, above all, if we raise them, the amount of trans
port will decline and our receipts will not rise.
Thus the working of the railways can only become financially
normal in proportion to the rise of the general economic level.
The greatest difficulty we have to meet is the insufficiency
of our supplies of fuel—coal, wood, and petroleum. For
lack of working capital we cannot secure sufficient supplies
in time ; for, in accordance with the new economic policy,
we are obliged to pay, for instance, for our wood, which
the State previously procured gratis for the railways by means
of forced labour imposed upon the peasants. With the
shortage of horses it is also difficult to bring the fuel to the
railways.
According to Dzershinsky’s statements, there
fore, the position of Russian transport is far from
being as catastrophic as the European Press likes
to represent it as being. The vast technical
apparatus which connects Archangel with the
Crimea, and Odessa with Tashkend and Vladi
vostok, is working on a reduced scale, but it is being

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