Private railway operator to run suburban transportation in Crimea

MOSCOW, Nov 26 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of a private Russian company Grand Service Express has been awarded the task to operate suburban rail transportation in Crimea, a company representative said on Tuesday.

The company, which runs a passenger connection between Moscow and Saint Petersburg, set up a subsidiary Southern Suburban Passenger Company to operate in the peninsula.

“Southern Suburban Passenger Company was established to implement a suburban transportation project in Crimea,” Grand Service Express told Reuters.

European Union sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine prohibit European citizens and enterprises from investing there and major Russian companies and banks have stayed away from the peninsula to avoid the sanctions.

Grand Service Express is a private Russian company 50/50 owned by Cyprus-based Sorena Investments Limited and Piper Participation Corp, registered in the British Virgin islands, according to the SPARK database of business registries. All suburban transportation in Crimea is now handled by the railways operator Crimea Railway, which according to Grand Service Express has been instrumental in awarding the task to the new entity.

Neither the Russian transport ministry nor Crimea Railway have responded yet to requests for comment. Russian Railways, which do not operate in Crimea, declined to comment.

Reporting by Gleb Stolyarov, writing by Anna Pruchnicka Editing by Tomasz Janowski