New Skoda Panters for Latvian railways presented, to replace Soviet sets
Two and a half years after the contract was signed, the first part of the future four-car train set for
Two and a half years after the contract was signed, the first part of the future four-car train set for the Latvian state carrier Pasazieru Vilciens has been presented.
In Ostrava, Skoda Transportation presented the production of RegioPanter electric units for Latvian State Railways (Pasazieru Vilciens). The unveiling ceremony of the first unit (out of 32 ordered) at the Skoda Vagonka premises was attended by the Latvian Minister of Transport Talis Linkaits. The new vehicles will represent a revolution on the Latvian railways, and the new trains will be seen by the local passengers “after many decades”, Linkaits commented.
Electrical static tests on the first unit are currently being completed at the Ostrava plant and a total of 13 vehicles are in the process of being painted and assembled. A further 18 vehicles are being worked on in the welding shop and machining center. The first train should be fully assembled at the end of March, after which it will be tested at Skoda’s test track in Plzeň.
“In Latvia today we have trains from the 1960s and the youngest trains from 1989, so I am glad that the production of the trains is in its final stage and that testing will soon begin – first in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, then in Latvia. Finally, in the fall, they will be ready for passenger transport,” said Linkaits. The ceremony was also attended by Skoda’s new CEO Didier Pfleger. “We are honored to be the company that will deliver new electric trains to Latvia after 30 years,” he said.
The price of the order for 32 trainsets is around CZK 6 billion, with the first train due to arrive in Riga in September, with deliveries then running until December 2023. The Latvians are counting on the Czech trains to run on radial routes from Riga towards the towns of Aizkraukle, Tukums, Skulte and Jelgava. The price includes maintenance, spare parts supply and training.
The new electric units are designed to operate on 1520 mm gauge lines with a 3 kV supply system with the possibility of a future change to 25 kV. The vehicles must withstand climatic conditions from -40 °C to +40 °C. The capacity of the vehicles is 400 seated and up to 450 standing passengers. The maximum speed is 160 km/h.
The road to the contract was not a straightforward one, leading through the Latvian antimonopoly authority and a series of appeals and administrative tussles with competitors. The carrier initially announced Talgo as the winner, but the antimonopoly authority decided the bids had to be re-evaluated, especially in terms of operating costs. In addition to Talgo, Skoda’s competitors in the tender were CAF and Stadler.