Sunday, 14 August 2011

Moscow on track for better commuter trains

Commuting in Moscow Region is about to get easier and more comfortable following a deal to build a new fleet of double-decker trains.

Russian Railways announced the contract on Friday and the first trains will be built in 2014 after senior deputy president Valentin Gapanovich signed off on the technical requirements of the new rolling stock.

The deal is set to consign the aged and uncomfortable elekhtrichkas to the scrap heap, replacing them with modern, faster trains.

And instead of being herded cattle-style into over-crowded carriages, passengers should find higher capacity and three seating classes offer more comfortable travel.

The new commuter train is a joint-venture project between Russian leading train building company Transmashholding and French Alstom (Alstom owns 25 per cent of Transmashholding).

One of the key features of the new trains is that they won’t require extra work to adapt the existing rail infrastructure.

Artyom Ledenev, spokesman for Transmashholding, said that the design ensured there was no need to extend station platforms or rebuild bridges over the lines.

He added that passenger flow could increase by 80 per cent with the new rolling stock, which will be developed specially for Russian Railways.

The new trains, similar to those operated in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and other European countries, will have up to 12 coaches and will be driven by a locomotive at each end.

The top speed of 160 km per hour is 30 per cent faster than the current rolling stock can manage, and Transmashholding promises greater comfort for commuters.

First class cars will have mix pairs of seats with single “airline-style” places, and passengers will have individual screens in front of them. Standard class will offer pairs of seats while Economy will resemble a more comfortable version of the existing elektrichka lay-out, according to a press release.

Other features of the commuter trains will include double VIP-seating compartments with a “grand luxe” class compartment for passengers in wheelchairs and accompanying persons, a snack-bar, and baggage storage for bulky luggage.

All carriages will have air-conditioning, have bio-toilets and CCTV.

The two locomotives will be produced at the Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant, while passenger carriages have been commissioned from a factory in Tver.

“We will have the heart of the trains - locomotives built here in Novocherkassk,” Alexei Parkhomenko, a spokesman for Novocherkassk Electric Locomotive Plant, said on the phone.

“These locomotives will be able to work in minus 40 degrees Celsius and never freeze like normal elektrichkas,” a source close to the joint-venture project between Transmashholding and Alstom informed.

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