10 Mar 2023 14:54

Industry and Trade Ministry reaches agreement on ball bearing deliveries from 'friendly countries' for Russian rail car building market

CHELYABINSK. March 10 (Interfax) - The problem of the ball bearing shortage for rolling stock production in Russia has been practically solved: Russian companies are producing these products and deliveries from friendly countries have also been approved, Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Albert Karimov told reporters on Friday.

"Today we are at the stage of a final resolution to this problem. Indeed, the situation was particularly acute in the summer and autumn regarding the required quantity of such bearings," he said.

Nevertheless, according to Karimov, the problem is being solved through special investment contracts that have been signed with two manufacturers.

"The technological complexity is also due to the fact that each such bearing in any design requires testing on special testing benches, which requires a certain amount of time. Nevertheless, these stages have been passed, and today our enterprises are already producing such bearings," the deputy minister said.

He added that approval has also been received for supply of bearings from friendly countries - from Uzbekistan and China.

"Summing up the balance of the required number of bearings, we can see today that acute shortages have been eliminated. Practically we can see that by the end of the year, given the increased capacity of our manufacturers, we will be able to considerably better meet the demand by our own production," he said.

Earlier, the Industry and Trade Ministry reported on a possible surplus of cassette bearings in Russia by mid-2023.

"I would like to give an example of the situation with cassette bearings. In the spring of this year [2022] it seemed that there were no cassette bearings, railcar building stopped. The Tikhvin plant [JSC TVSZ, part of UWC] started up on August 1, EBC [European Bearing Corporation] made cassette bearings and one more manufacturer from Chelyabinsk is also starting up cassette bearings," deputy Industry and Trade Minister Vasily Osmakov said at a Duma committee meeting in October last year.

"It is likely that by the middle of next year [2023], we will be talking about a surplus of these very cassette bearings and we will solve the problem," Osmakov said at the time.

As previously reported, in April 2022 Swedish bearing manufacturer SKF announced the cessation of operations in Russia. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of bearings in the world, with operations in 130 countries. SKF had operated in Russia since 1991, and in 2010 launched production capacity for railway transport ball bearings at its production site in Tver.