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Russian Railways opens first duty-free shop

Russian Railways subsidiary Federal Passenger Company (FPC) has opened its first duty-free shop at Zabaikalsk station on the border with China, according to local media reports.

The shop is targeting passengers on the Moscow-Beijing and China-Manchuria (China) routes. Further duty-free shops at Finlyandsky station, St Petersburg and a station in Vyborg, North-West Russia are expected in the future.

According to reports, the idea of establishing railway duty-free shops received government support last spring. The aim was to implement them at Finlyandsky station, St Petersburg and in Vyborg, before rolling them out to all Russian train stations servicing international routes.

A pilot project was believed to have been implemented earlier this year onboard the Sotolichny Express rapid train, providing non-stop service between Moscow and Kiev. Plans were also in place to bring duty-free shopping to its Lev Tolstoy train servicing Moscow and Helsinki. Products on offer are reported to have included liquor, fragrances and cosmetics and jewellery.

Deputy director of the then Association of Duty Free Trading Travel Retail (BORT), now known as The Eurasian Association of Duty Free, told local medial earlier this year: “The question is this: How is Russian Railways going to organise control at non-terminal train stations to make sure that buyers of duty-free goods don’t disembark at the Russian border? As a minimum, a system for scanning tickets must be implemented.”

Russian duty-free sales reached $1bn last year with inflight accounting for 10-15%.