Czech Railways to buy new trains for 2.6 billion crowns

RegioPanter, photo: PetrS, CC BY-SA 3.0

The state-owned Czech Railways has bought 14 new trains to run on longer domestic routes, the company announced on Tuesday in a press release. The contract for the new vehicles was signed with Škoda Transportation. The new trains are to be produced in 2015 and 2016.

RegioPanter,  photo: PetrS,  CC BY-SA 3.0
Sources suggest the move is meant to boost the firm’s competitiveness ahead of new tenders to be announced by the Transport Ministry on routes, for example, from Olomouc to Ostrava and Plzeň to Most.

The new trains will come from the successful RegioPanter line, modified for longer journeys rather than short commutes. According to Czech Railways, they will phase out older express trains and wagons dating back to East Germany.

The transport company maintains that the new design will offer a modern, air-conditioned interior and, with a low floor, will above all allow easy access for wheel-chair users, and parents pushing prams – as required by the Transport Ministry. The low-floor the company said, would allow for quick boarding and exit from the trains, minimizing delays. Other benefits of the new cars include a modern LCD display system and WiFi internet access.

Not all will necessarily enjoy the new seating, unless they have already gotten used to row seating as on busses or planes during commutes. There is no doubt some travelers will miss the old fashioned coupe, where passengers or small groups, if they got lucky, could occasionally have only themselves. That kind of privacy, more and more apparently, is becoming a thing of the past. On the other hand, Czech Railways will introduce more comfortable seats than currently found on regional RegioPanters on the longer routes.

In all, an operator on six routes is being sought. The routes are the aforementioned Plzeň-Most and Olomouc-Ostrava, as well as Liberec-Pardubice, Pardubice-Ústí nad Labem, Prague-Cheb and Prague-Děčín.