On the basis of a government decision, Estonian state-owned passenger rail operator Elron announced a procurement on Thursday for the purchase of six dual system electric trains with the option of an additional ten trains in the future.
"As the number of passengers in Estonian rail traffic continues to grow each month and popular routes are packed with people, both we and our riders are already looking forward to the arrival of the new trains," Elron CEO Merike Saks said in a press release on Thursday. "Unfortunately, we have to remain patient yet, as the new trains will begin traveling on the electrified Tallinn-Tartu route, which will be completed by December 2024."
Saks added that the new trains will have more seats, and that the plan is to take advantage of the option to move seats in oder to more flexibly react to travelers' expectations.
"Using movable seats, we want to make more room for bicycles during the summer months, and during the fall and winter period we can allow more people to sit," she explained, noting that the procurement has also taken into account riders' feedback regarding softer and more comfortable seats and the opportunity to buy hot drinks and snacks on board.
"Regarding technical criteria, it's essential to note that the trains to be procured will be dual-system electric trains that can travel in both the old contact line area as well as on new electrified sections of rail," Saks stressed.
She added that while it is difficult to generate interest in train manufacturers with such a small order, potential tenderers include Stadler, the producer of the orange trains currently in use by Elron, as well as Škoda, who is currently building similar trains for Latvia.
"The maximum length of the trains will be 85 meters — this is dictated first and foremost by the maintenance equipment at our depot," Saks explained.
The CEO admitted that manufacturers would certainly prefer to produce more trains at once, as each batch is designed and built according to the specifics of a country's specific rail infrastructure. The smaller the batch, the more expensive the trains, as planning and factory settings for train production cost over €1 million.
"Estonia has a wider railroad, and wider and lower carriages than in most other countries," Saks said. "And so our trains are built tailor-made according to our exact needs."
The deadline for the procurement is June 1, 2020, with handover of the trains scheduled for the second half of 2024.
Editor: Aili Vahtla