It’s been high-speed rail that’s been getting most of the attention in Russia these past few years. The Sapsan on the Moscow–Saint Petersburg Railway, opened on 2009 is Russia's highest speed railway with a top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph). Whilst high-speed lines are also in operation between Helsinki and St. Petersburg and Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. But today’s it’s a recently announced development that is capturing the headlines – a new line connecting Moscow to Berlin, set to begin operation next month. Operated by Russian Railways, the first Moscow – Minsk (Belarus) – Warsaw (Poland) – Berlin Talgo train service will depart Moscow’s Kursk station on December 17th and from Berlin Ostbahnhof going the other way the following day. Tickets are now on sale. And Following a Russian tradition the train will be named after the bird Strizh translated as Swift in English. 18 carriages will stretch over 3483 km to accommodate passengers and the line will also be used for freight services. But what is unique about this rail line is the technology behind it. Crossing such huge distances, and not to mention gauges, brings some unique challenges. We find out more…
The train carriages have been manufactured by Patentes Talgo S.L ( @ ) . The Spanish firm specialise in the design, manufacturing, maintenance of rolling stock and the systems for automatic gauge changing. Their rolling stock has already been used for Russia’s latest high-speed railway in 2015 which operates between Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod.
The Patentes Talgo technology will mean that the Russian standard gauge line of 1,520mm can automatically adjust to the narrower 1435mm gauge lines in Europe, the first passenger train system to be fitted with such a wheel system.
The single axle between each carriage has independently rotating wheels fitted with viable gauge running gear. On a conventional train this process takes an hour to change the bogies on conventional trains, however these train designs can be modified in 20 minutes. The automatic gauge changer was fitted early last year at Brest station in Belarus located near the Polish border. Pelentes Talgo’s carriages had to stand the test of the German based TÜV SÜD Rail which analysed covering braking, running, aerodynamics, electromagnetic compatibility.
From December, the line will operate twice a week for commercial travel. Passengers will be able to travel on Saturday and Sunday from Moscow and Sunday and Monday from Berlin. The train line will enter five countries on its route bypassing Smolensk, Orsha, Minsk, Brest, Terespol, Warsaw, Poznan, Rzepin and Frankfurt (Oder).
These new trains make the westbound journey time 20 hours and 14 minutes from 24 hours 49 minutes to while the eastbound train will complete the trip in 20 houres 35 minutes, compared with 25 hours 56 minutes currently.
Each train has 20 Carriages, including a mix of second class, first class and VIP – which are equipped with private showers and en-suite facilities. The train also boasts both a bistro and restaurant carriage
This is not all the Russians have planned on their tracks. Transport officials are also working a new project with Chinese rail developers to revolutionise speeds of their current high-speed rail systems. Work on the Moscow-Kazan high-speed railway is now underway and expected to be completed by 2018 to coincide with the Russian World Cup. The route which currently takes twelve hours will be three and a half after trains can reach maximum speeds of 400kmh. There is speculation that this is the first stage of a broader project connecting Moscow to Beijing covering 7,000km, but nothing has been finalised by Russian and Chinese governments.
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