By Igor Savostnin
Almost a year ago, Belarusian Railways signed a contract with Swiss Stadler Bussnang AG for the supply of the first ten modern electric trains, each costing almost 6m Euros, for urban passenger transportation (under ‘City Lines’ format). Their purchase has been overseen by the state programme for Belarus’ railway transport development.
The Swiss dispatched the carriages of the new train by lorry, taking them on six 34m long platforms. The train arrived at Baranovichi’s locomotive depot, after almost a week of transportation by night through Germany and Poland, choosing roads with less traffic. Belarus is the only CIS state so far to receive these ultra-modern electric trains. The first train has been assembled in Baranovichi by the Swiss, with onboard equipment adjusted over a period of several days. Once the technicalities were complete, the train was sent to Minsk’s depot, where it is to be permanently housed. In March, two more trains will arrive, also to be assembled in Baranovichi.
The new electric trains are distinctly modern, with new technical and design solutions, allowing passengers more open passage between carriages during journeys, a low floor for easier boarding and wide, automatic doors. Additionally, the carriages boast sockets to charge mobile phones and use laptop computers. The stylish cabins boast stationary chairs and convenient folding chairs while a spacious zone is designated for passengers with children’s prams and bicycles. A separate carriage has a special area for disabled passengers, ensuring fastening for wheelchairs.
By late March, the first Stadler electric train will become operational from Minsk-Passazhirsky station, covering the route from Minsk-Passazhirsky to Zhdanovichi; later, the route will be extended to the city of Zaslavl. By summer, several trains will be operational, connecting the capital with its satellite-cities. Necessary infrastructure is being built to ensure the success of the ‘City Lines’.