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Alpine Railway


Communications link - Super High Speed in Russia      

Russia is one of the latest members to the (super) high speed club. While the country had impressive goals in its Soviet period on the super high speed railroading, these had little results, while the emphasis on the high technology was on the military side, not the well being of its citizens. From the Soviet period the Russians has had three units of type ER-200, an 200 km/h (125 mph) EMUs until recently. One of the trains has even been rebuilt and is back in the traffic. The current Russia has had so far moderate plans, all of which have been carried through. These include upgrading line speeds and acquiring initial super high speed and high speed rolling stock. Velaro-Rus "Sapsan" units have been successfully launched and the Karelian Trains (RzD subsidiary) Allegro Pendolinos are soon in traffic as well. These are supplemented by more traditional locomotive hauled trains behind the Chs6 and Chs200 units. The above mentioned are just the beginning, since the vast country will benefit enormously from the high speed railroading.
Picture: A latest state of the art Velaro-Rus "Sapsan" unit on the test drive on a very typical Russian overpass. The units were built to withstand high speed in the extreme cold weather; don't we all know the saying "cold as in Siberia!" The Velaro units first will run 250 km/h (155 mph) between Moscow, St Petersburg and other larger cities (lines speeds allowing). The plans are to increase the speed later to 300 km/h (186 mph).  Picture by the builder Siemens AG 2009.     

Picture: The now in traffic Velaros and future Pendolonos can't meet all the high speed railroading needs as the numbers are barely over 10 units combined. This means that the Chs6 and Chs200 fleet will remain in place to add capacity for the "almost" high speed trains in traffic. Here the Chs6 number 007 is seen sitting idle outside the St Petersburg Moscowskaya station locomotive works between the assignments. Picture by John McKey 2009.      

Picture: One of the original three ER200 test trains was be rebuilt after decades of use and returned back to service to provide the much needed high speed capacity. The ER200 were originally built in Latvia (back then part of the Soviet empire). This ER-200 unit is part of the collection at an enormous St Petersburg railroad museum. Picture by John McKey 2009.

Building Capacity
The existing 7 Velaro-Rus  / Sapsan units are certainly not enough to fill the demand of the high speed high standard passenger services. More capacity will be needed for the coming years, but are only the beginning for the fast growing demand. The beginning for traffic between St Petersburg with Moscow, cities of 5 million and over 10 million inhabitants has been carefully chosen to maximize the use of the initial production capacity. When wondering about the volumes you have to undrstand that the Russians don't move around like the Westerners do. However, the passenger volumes although very thin today will certainly grov in the future.   

In addition to these the Russian RzD - Finnish VR now has 4 Allegro Pendolinos through their joint venture Karelian Trains. Below a picture of a unit during the initial tests in Kerava area in Finland. Picture by Stanislav Voronin. 
Karelian Trains Allegro Pendolino Sm6 nr1 at Kerava, Finland

Recently there have also been rumors on Talgo super high speed tests to study the possibility to use normal or high speed connection with variable gauge change rolling stock between Moscow Russia and Berlin Germany.


 The Sokol Test Trains Project   

One of the Soviet period not so lucky projects on high speed arena was the Sokol 250 test train for (super) high speeds. See the special report by Stanislav Voronin on the Sokol test train being testdriven on the test rink! In the end the Sokol never got anywhere due to missing desgn skills and/or money.   

 The Great Grandfather of the Sapsan   

Picture: the Sapsan shares the same stylish look as its 'grand father' ICE3 train in Munich Germany. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo. 

One can observe, that the figures of the trains: 8 Velaro-Rus units and 4 Pendolino units is very low! For a country of over 100 million inhabitants these units are only a trial batch to test the suitability for the Russian environment. Several hundred more unit trains will likely be ordered once the logistics processes start working smoothly.  


 The Russian High Speed Lines  
The main high speed rail link connects the two most important population areas in the Russia: Moscow the city of over 10 million inhabitants inland and St Petersburg with its 5 million inhabitants on the baltic Sea Coast. There are also other projects east from Moscow and Northwest of St Petersburg. Another high speed rail building project will soon be finished east of Moscow to Nizhny Novgorod. The project Nortwest of St Petersburg connects the city with the capital of Finland Helsinki in 2010. This caused traffic delays in the summer of 2009, because of heavy building volume on the Russian side. The Finnish side was done mostly between the normal trains. While Finland is upgrading its almost straight rail line towards Russia, the Russian authorities are building a completely new line for the heavy freight traffic and upgrading the existing track for higher speeds. Latest additions for fast trains are to be connections from St Petersburg to northeast with Pendolino and plans to connect Moscow with Berlin on rail. There is also a new overnight train Moscow to Berlin in plans. While currently the track gauges differ, some additional technology is needed for adapting that. One solution would be the solution used in the border of France and Spain to change the gauge from 1435mm to 1668mm. Part of this "Eurolink" could be achieved via Rail Baltica (Helsinki, Finland - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland to Berlin Germany), but the straightest and fastest routes from Moscow for the moment definitely don't cross the Baltic countries. 

Latest line development decided is the true high speed line between the cities of St Petersburg and Moscow. This line will be high speed only and help avoid the current disturbances to other traffic caused by Sapsans. Acoording to local soruces, the disturbances have been severe.
The Russia the largest country in the world and while the countrys west is progressing fast the further east you go, the more basic infrasturusture needs to be built first before any serious high speed passenger transportation is planned. We learned that the Transsiberian railway would now be electrified, a definitive step forward! The following high speed lines are to be built in the few coming years: 

  • Moscow - St Petersburg upgrade, this will be the main route for intense high speed traffic. Finished. 
  • Moscow - St Petersburg new high speed line, further planning and building starting.  
  • St Petersburg - Buslovskaya, the track to connect Helsinki Finland (1+ million people) with St Petersburg Russia (5 million people). Will soon be finished.    
  • Moscow - Smolensk, 
  • Moscow - Nizhniy Novgorod, soon to be finished. 
  • Moscow - Kursk, 
  • Rostov - Mineralnye Vody, 
  • Krasnodar - Mineralnye Vody and 
  • Omsk - Novosibirsk.    


 The Russian Super High Speed and High Speed Trains  
While the super high speed still is at its infancy in Russia (the definition being 300 km/h and over (186 mph)) the 8 Velaro units start the modern high speed transportation era between the cities of Moscow and St Peterburg. The Velaro-Rus is named Sapsan
, a hawk flying almost as fast in the dive as the trains do. 

Pictures. Sapsan outside...and futuristic inside! 


We will watch closely to the further international news on the high speed development in Russia.

 Velaro-Rus & Pendolino Menu
  Velaro-Rus / Sapsan Trains  NEW!   

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Created for by John McKey. Pictures by Ilkka Siissalo, Sanna Siissalo, Stanislav Voronin, Hannu Peltola, Siemens AG and John McKey.

 Also on super high speed

Super High Speed News provides you the newest happenings and trends in the super fast railroading. 

A TGV and AGV Theme Page provides information on these most succesfull super high speed trains.
See the Velaro & ICE 1,2,3 Page for these Siemens prides!

The Virgin Trains Pendolino class 390 is one of the many pendolinos found on the Pendolino page.  

It all started from Japan in 1964 with the first bullet train. See what the latest Shinkansens have to offer for the world! 

The Eurostars use the Channel Tunnel connect the U.K. to the mainland Europe. 

The Chinese CRH program is the most advanced  in the world and China will be the world leader in super high speed trains usage in just a few years.

One of the always popular trains is the Russian super high speed test train Sokol. While Sokol was a product in the wrong time period, the Russia today has an impressive high speed program starting.

Maglev of Germany and China starts the new generation of floating on the rail, the new comfort level of travelling! 

 Newer Russian High Speed Production Units      
 Velaro Rus / Sapsan           

The impressive face of the Velaro-Rus train for the RZD the Russian Railways. Below the same unit subjected to severe winter tests, of minus 50 degrees and below!  

Velaro-Rus is a close relative to other modern Velaro trains used around the world. The 8 units currently delivered will be operated by the RZD, the Russian Railways.         
Velaro-Rus Technical Details
-> Type: Velaro-Rus 

-> Builder: Siemens AG in Germany
-> Operator: RZD, the Russian Railways  
-> Number of units: 2 (6) bought for 300M? including the services needed for 30 years.
-> Delivered to use: 2009 - 2010  
-> Configuration: 10 car EMU, Powered bogies troughout the train
-> Capacity: 604 passengers, 104 in Business Class 
-> Operated by: RZD of Russia   
-> Unit length: 250 meters
-> width: 3265 mm (broad loading gauge)  

-> Unit power (8 axles powered): 8000 kW  (10725 Hp)
-> Starting tractive effort: 380 kN 
-> Continuous tractive effort: 3?? kN 
-> Electrical systems for: AC 25 kV/50Hz + some or all units also DC 3000V depending on the source   
-> Operational max. speed: 250 km/h (155 mph), 300 km/h (186 mph) possible later after minor modifications 

-> Design temperatures: -50 - +40 Celcius !
-> Mass, metric tons:    t /  t net

-> Gauge: 1520 mm (5 ft)
-> Carbody material: Aluminum 
-> Wheel diameter:      mm

-> Coupler type: 
-> Axle weight max:    tons  

-> heated, airconditioned and pressure controlled environment for the passengers and train service personnel  
Easy recognition guide

  • Red triangle on the nose of the train.
  • Velaro and ICE-like design  
  • No other similar train in Russia  

Picture Below: light and comfortable travel accommodations for the Russian taste. The greater than normal width (Russia has a modern broad loading gauge) allows more spacious compartments than for instance in Spain or United Kingdom. +30-40 centimeters makes miracles!
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Sources: The Net, La vie du Rail, Railway Gazette, Siemens AG, Todays Railways, Trains Magazine, Alstom, ...  

Other interesting pages in this category on 
On High Speed:
  Super Fast Trains Main Page  
  Super High Speed Trains News   
  Super High Speed Trains records Page   
  TGV & AGV page         
  AGV Page    
  Intercity Express - ICE  and Velaro Page       

  Shinkansen picture & fact page    
  Watching Super Fast Train at Paris Gare du Nord      
  The SNCF TGV Roster Page     
  Pendolino special page        
  Cisalpino (ETR470 Pendolino) story by Ilkka Siissalo in the Swiss section!    
  Sokol from Russia     

  High Speed in Russia   
  Super High Speed Efforts in the U.S.   
  Super High Speed in China   
  Maglev technology Page - levitation on the rail   

  Super High Speed Lines and Corridors...         
High Speed Services:
  Allegro - Helsinki Finland to St Petersburg Russia  
  AVE - High Speed service of Renfe Spain  
  Cisalpino - The Former Joint Venture of SBB/CFF and Trenitalia   
  FYRA - High Speed service of NS and SNCB in Benelux countries 
  Sapsan - High Speed service of RzD of Russia  
  Thalys - High Speed service from France to Benelux countries   
  TGV - High Speed service of SNCF in France      

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   Main > Reference > Super High Speed Trains > High Speed in Russia Railroad Reference 2004 - 2010  -  Created 2008 John McKey, Updated 2.9.2010 John McKey