JSC Russian Railways is putting into action its programme for a high-speed rail service by 2020. Approximately 69 billion rubles has been allocated for the period of 2008 to 2010 in order to achieve this aim. The main aim of the programme is the provision of high-speed, convenient services with travel time of 6-7 hours.
Having analysed transport connections between the largest Russian cities, 18 routes with a high volume of passengers have been selected where it is realistic to implement high-speed passenger service. These cities are large centres such as St. Petersburg, Moscow, Krasnodar, Samara and Novosibirsk where passenger traffic is expected to increase by 10-13% by 2010.
Moscow – St. Petersburg
With the implementation of this programme, the plan to develop high-speed traffic between Moscow and St. Petersburg has become a pilot project. JSC Russian Railways has agreed a contract to supply the first Russian high-speed trains with Siemens AG. The contract for the manufacture of 8 electric Velaro RUS trains with the contract price of 276 million euros was signed in May 2006.
In accordance with the contract, 4 single-system trains will be supplied for use on the Moscow - St. Petersburg route and 4 double-system trains will be supplied for use on the Moscow - Nizhniy Novgorod route. Mass manufacturing of this new rolling stock specifically for Russian railways started at the Siemens plant in Krefeld-Uerdingen in July 2007.
The first train that got the name Sapsan has arrived in Russia in December 2009 while the others will be delivered during the course of 2010. The first trains will start running between Moscow and St. Petersburg at speeds of up to 250 km/h in certain sections and will cover the distance between the cities in 3 hours and 45 minutes. The train design allows for the future increase of the maximum speed to 330 km/h after a minor adaptation.
“Today we present the first of eight Sapsan high-speed electric trains,” said Vladimir Yakunin, the President of Russian Railways, at the train presentation in St. Petersburgh. “The Sapsan still has to pass a whole series of tests and the certification procedure, but by the end of 2009 it will be carrying its first passengers and offer a serious alternative to aviation, covering the Moscow - Saint Petersburg run in just 3:45 hours. In addition, the fares will be lower than flights on the same route,” said Yakunin.
Moscow and St. Petersburg were chosen to be the first destinations for high-speed trains as they are major Russian hubs for both economic and tourist activity.
Around 25 million people live in the two cities and their suburbs, i.e. 18% of the Russian population. Almost a quarter of Russian gross output is produced here. The total cost of time saved by the implementation of a high-speed rail service on this route will amount to approximately 940 million rubles annually.
Reduction of travel time is very important for passengers who travel between the cities for business reasons. This group of passengers forms the largest group travelling on the Moscow - St. Petersburg route. Evidently it is this group that will be the main user of the new service due to the current trend of large Russian compaines moving their headquarters to St. Petersburg.
The forecast for passenger traffic increase indicates that in 2010, no less than 9.1 million passengers will use rail and air travel between Moscow and St. Petersburg. With the introduction of high-speed trains on this route, 8.6 million passengers will travel by rail. Taking into account the average income of the population of these 2 cities, 4.2 million passengers will use high-speed rail travel. Around 35% of the population of these cities are in the "high" and "above average" income brackets.
Moscow - Nizhniy Novgorod high-speed rail travel will also be implemented on the basis of Sapsan electric train. It is planned that trains will travel between the 2 citites at the speed of 160-200 km/h. Travel time will be reduced by up to 3.5 hours, which is particularly important for business passengers including senior managers and the managers of large enterprises.
Implementation of this programme will enable the increase in demand for rail travel between Moscow and Nizhniy Novgorod as well as improving its profitability. The project to develop high-speed trains on this route assumes investments amounting to over 8.5 billion rubles in 2008-2010.
Currently, Russian Railways is cooperating with the Russian Ministry of Transport to develop the regulatory framework and high-speed communications standards in Russia for trains capable of exceeding 400 kmph.
The Company is also developing a project to build a new high-speed main line between Moscow and St. Petersburg, which will be laid parallel to the existing track. The tentative date of the project is between 2013-2018.
St. Petersburg – Helsinki
One of Russian Railways’ most important and promising projects is high-speed services between St. Petersburg and Helsinki, which is scheduled to begin operations in 2010.
In November 2006, Vladimir Yakunin the president of Russian Railways, and Henri Kuitunen, Chairman of the VR Group, signed an equity contract regarding the Joint-Stock Company Oy Karelian Trains Ltd.The signing ceremony took place in Helsinki in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Finnish President Tarja Halonen.
Under the contract, Oy Karelian Trains Ltd has the right to acquire rolling stock as a result of an international tender, provide maintenance during the operating cycle and transfer rolling stock to VR Ltd and Russian Railways for commercial service on leasing terms.
In June 2007, the results were announced of an international tender to purchase motorised train units for high-speed rail services between St. Petersburg and Helsinki. The tender was won by the French corporation ALSTOM.
On 30 November 2007, senior executives from Russian Railways and ALSTOM attended the ceremony in Savigliano, Italy to mark the beginning of production of the first Pendolino high-speed electric passenger train intended for service between St. Petersburg and Helsinki.
To implement high-speed passenger services, Russian Railways will purchase and launch dual-system electric trains capable of a maximum speed of 220 kmph and with powered coach tilting. These trains will be in line with modern European requirements of comfort and security.
Introducing these new trains will reduce the journey time between St. Petersburg and Helsinki to 3-3.5 hours, at least two hours shorter compared to the 5.5 hours required at the moment. In particular, travel time in Russia itself will fall to 2 hours 27 minutes.
Each train will have 300 seats and consist of 7 cars: 1 business-class coach, 5 second-class coaches and a restaurant car with a separate compartment for smokers.
Russian Railways plans to operate 4 pairs of high-speed trains per day between St. Petersburg and Helsinki.
On December 29, 2008 the Board of Directors of Oy Karelian Trains Ltd has named the new high-speed train the Allegro, which comes from the Italian and means fast. The name was chosen because it is readily understandable in Russian, Finnish and other languages. The train’s livery is based on the flags of Russia and Finland: red, white, blue and silver.