At the presentation of the Swiss electric trains in Minsk, Belarusian Railways’ Director Anatoly Sivak explained that the first city train will launch in early summer. The route is to connect the stations of Minsk-Passazhirsky and Belarus (Zaslavl) which is among the busiest in the suburbs. Belarusian Railways hopes to increase its passenger transportation on the route from today’s 470,000 to 9m annually.
Mr. Sivak notes that prices are still being discussed, with day tickets are likely to be used on the new electric trains. “There are several variants possible regarding price; we’ll make our final decision in April,” the official stresses. Although the exact price is not yet fixed, the tickets are due to cost less than those for inner-city shuttle buses and slightly more than bus tickets.
The first city electric train, supplied by Switzerland, has four carriages, able to accommodate 624 passengers, travelling at a speed of 160km/h. The train is equipped with heated curtains for doors, to keep out draughts, air conditioning/heating, video surveillance and a zone for handicapped passengers.
Belarusian Railways and Swiss Stadler have signed a contract for the delivery of ten trains, each costing about 6m Euros. Two arrived in February, with another three due by late 2011 and five more in 2012. They have also signed a memorandum to continue co-operation, envisaging the purchase of new trains for city lines. Mr. Sivak notes that these would initially connect Minsk with Zhdanovichi and Zaslavl; other satellite-towns would be added at a later date. “If we launch a new train to Smolevichi under this scheme, we’ll need about six electric trains to satisfy today’s passenger numbers,” he explains. “Additionally, about six trains will be needed to service Machulishchi and Kolyadichi.”
Peter Spuhler, Group Chief Executive Officer and President of Stadler Rail AG, tells us that co-operation with Belarus is proving rather successful. “This project has been implemented within a year — a record period. Stadler sees huge prospects for co-operation with Belarus. I’m convinced that our trains will enhance the comfort of urban life for Belarusians,” he notes. Stadler is interested not only in satisfying Belarus’ demand for modern equipment but wishes to export its products to other countries via Belarus.
Last year, Belarus launched a new format of passenger transportation, entirely new from a technical point of view and in its approach. It envisages the classification of lines into international, inter-regional, regional, city and commercial. ‘City Lines’ will become the first stage of the project, connecting Minsk with its suburbs and satellite-towns.