Czech rail operators to plough billions into fleets in coming years

Photo: PetrS., Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Czech Republic’s rail companies are planning to make major investments in the coming years, the Czech News Agency reported on Monday. The biggest operator, Czech Railways, is at present running a number of competitions to supply it with tens of new wagons and locomotives and will invest up to CZK 40 billion in the next five years, while RegioJet and other service providers aim to spend several billion crowns in a three-year period.

Photo: PetrS.,  Wikimedia Commons,  CC BY-SA 3.0
Czech Railways plan to rejuvenate their fleet in a gradual manner. At present the company has about 2,210 passenger cars, over 500 locomotives and 1,000 complete trains, with the average age of the machines being close to 33 years.

Many of them have previously been modernised, but revitalisation should continue, including with the purchase of new trains.

Czech Railways has 31 electric trains for regional transport – which are part of a contract to purchase a total of 50 trains – in production at present.

In addition, five two-level, three-car trains and 50 long-distance trains with speeds of up to 200 km/h are being built. The carrier will take possession of these vehicles in the coming years.

A Czech Railways competition to deliver 120 regional trains and up to 180 long-distance trains with a speed of 230 km/h is ongoing at present.

The company is also preparing a tender for the purchase of up to 65 locomotives. It is additionally purchasing older refitted cars beyond the Czech Republic’s borders.

The privately owned RegioJet runs 26 locomotives and around 170 cars, which are composed of new Astra vehicles from Romania and other older cars, which the carrier also bought abroad and refitted.

RegioJet is also now preparing to modernise dozens of other vehicles and will spend around CZK 3 billion to that end in the coming three years. In 2020 it will take possession of the first of 15 multi-system Bombardier locomotives. In addition, the company has an option for dozens of other machines.

Leo Express has the youngest fleet, including five Stadler trains, which it operates on long-haul routes. Another 15 regional Alstom trains also operate on its local lines.

Leo Express plans to start using three Sirius trains from the Chinese manufacturer CRRC next year, while it has an option worth CZK 5 billion on another 30 units.

Train purchases and upgrades mean better improvements for passengers. Air conditioning, video systems, internet connections, power sockets and USB connectors are often standard on new vehicles.

New cars are also mostly wheelchair accessible and often have dedicated areas for families with children and services for them, as well as storage space for large luggage or bicycles. The layout is often changed on long-distance trains, as passengers frequently prefer open spaces over classic enclosed coupes.