German swallows fly high in Moscow
In Russia, this high-speed train that runs along the Moscow Central Circle bears the romantic name “Lastochka” (translated as “swallow”). In Germany, this rolling stock, developed by Siemens, has a different name: Desiro RUS. But this has no effect on how popular the comfortable trains, which can travel at up to 160km/h, are among Muscovites and the capital’s guests. Capital Ideas talked to Joerg Liebscher, head of Siemens Mobility in Russia, about the company’s operations.
Did Siemens develop Lastochka trains for Russia, local conditions or do such trains run in Germany and in other countries as well?
110 Lastochka trains made in Russia by our Joint Venture Ural Locomotives and 54 German trains are now operated in many regions of Russia. Our Lastochka trains have showed themselves to good advantage in passenger traffic operation on the Moscow Central Circle. As of today, more than 220 million passengers have been carried. At present, 42 Lastochka trains are operated on the MСC. Lastochka electric trains are new generation trains developed on the basis of Desiro project with the use of innovative technologies. These trains are designed for suburban and intercity passenger traffic on Russian railways with a wider track gauge equipped with high and low platforms. The maximum electric train speed is 160 km/h. They are designed for the specific climate of Russia and can be operated at temperatures from +40°C to -40°C. Passenger comfort features and advantages include availability of areas for persons with disabilities, convenient passenger seats for long journeys lasting for 4 hours and more, availability of tables and outlets for work during the trip, passenger compartment air conditioning systems (instead of a vent window air circulation system). Special train modifications were developed for operation on the Moscow Circle with places for bicycles, additional handrails, and a modified seat configuration (more standing passengers).
The passenger traffic on the MCC which is now used by about half a million people every day was opened in September 2016. Was it the first use of Lastochkas in Russia?
Lastochka trains on the MCC are really very popular among passengers due to their comfort, speed and ease of movement. We used our positive passenger transportation experience in various cities of our country to launch our trains on the MCC. Lastochka trains proved themselves to be good at passenger transportation during sporting events (including the recently completed FIFA World Cup).
Is only one modification of Lastochka trains used in Russia or are we talking about several types of trains?
Lastochka trains exist in several versions: standard and premium. And, as we mentioned before, a special modification was developed for the MCC. In addition, a two-system train (3kV DC and 25kV AC) is currently under certification tests.
Where are Lastochka trains manufactured for the Russian Federation – in Germany or in Russia?What plants manufacture them?
Today, the Russian content is 80%. In May 2014, the first Siemens Desiro RUS electric train was manufactured by Ural Locomotives. For the first time ever in the history of domestic railroad rolling stock manufacture it included a welded aluminum body. Siemens, in partnership with Sinara Group, started localization of electric trains at Ural Locomotives plant and has been performing the largest order for 1,200 cars issued by Russian Railways in 2011.
How many Lastochka trains have been manufactured in Russia and how many of them are used on the MCC?
At present, 110 Lastochka trains made in Russia by our Joint Venture Ural Locomotives and 54 German trains are operated in many regions of Russia.
In what cities and regions of Russia, apart from Moscow and Sochi, are Lastochka trains operated? Do they run only on already existing routes in the Russian Federation or new routes are being developed for these trains?
Territories of Lastochka operation are continuously expanding both on the existing and new routes. At present, Lastochka trains carry passengers in the following areas.
South Region: Krasnodar Territory, Adler – Maikop, Krasnodar – Rostov-on-Don, Rostov-on-Don – Krasnodar – Novorossiysk, Kislovodsk – Rostov-on-Don – Krasnodar, Sochi – Roza Khutor, Tuapse – Sochi Airport. Leningrad Region: St. Petersburg – Veliky Novgorod, Vyborg, Volkhovstroy, Bologoye, Petrozavodsk. Central Region: Moscow – Orel, Smolensk, Kursk, Tver, Nizhny Novgorod, Kryukovo, Ivanovo, Moscow Central Circle. Ural Region: Yekaterinburg – Nizhny Tagil – Kushva, Kamensk-Uralsky, Yekaterinburg – Kuzino – Shalaya. North-West Region: Kaliningrad – Svetlogorsk, Zelenogradsk.
How do you see further development of Lastochka and Sapsan transport projects? Are these projects promising?
The Infrastructure Economics Centre predicts (IEC) a steady growth of passenger transportation by electric trains with a maximum speed of 160 km/h until 2030. Analysts came to this conclusion based on the study of applicability of Lastochka type rolling stock on the existing railway network.
According to the railway network study, there are several routes with high passenger traffic: Moscow transport hub, North-West transport hub, Volga Region, North Caucasus and Urals. Mr. Kosoy, president of IEC, stressed that the use of Lastochka electric trains in those regions is economically feasible. By 2030, the demand for electric trains will exceed 1.9 thousand cars.Thus, there are still many regions where our trains could be used effectively.
Who is responsible for Lastochka train servicing and is it effectively arranged in Russia?
Siemens pays much attention to maintenance of trains supplied to our key partner, Russian Railways. Service maintenance of Lastochka trains is carried out on the basis of Podmoskovnaya depot and in Adler. In 2011, a contract for manufacturing of 1,200 cars and service maintenance of 54 trains was signed for 40 years. In 2015, a contract for service maintenance of trains manufactured in Russia was signed for 40 years.
Today we are trying to provide efficient service that integrates all train information. We are also developing a digital depot project based on paperless document management.
As we are talking about Siemens trains in Russia, it is impossible not to mention famous Sapsan trains running on the Moscow – St. Petersburg route. How did they take hold and are they popular?
Today, Sapsan is one of the most successful projects. It is evidenced by the highest train “population” (99.2% is the highest rate of train utilization in Russia), its availability (99.9%) and successful uninterrupted operation.
We signed an agreement on expansion of the high-speed train fleet of RZD Holding at the international trade fair InnoTrans in Berlin. According to the document, Russian Railways OJSC and Ural Locomotives LLC (Joint Venture of Sinara Group and Siemens AG) will negotiate an agreement on expansion of Sapsan fleet by March 31, 2019. It is also planned to sign an additional agreement for maintenance and repair of this rolling stock as a continuation of the current service agreement between Siemens AG and RZD OJSC. It appears to be the best evidence of the popularity of these trains.
What is the pace and what are the areas of development of cooperation between Siemens and Russia in railway transport in general?
As one of the world leading providers of railway solutions and technologies, Siemens is a strategic partner of Russian Railways in many projects. In the future, we are ready to expand areas of cooperation, primarily using digital technologies.
The HSR construction is among the promising areas in which we would like to take part. For this purpose, several years ago, the German Initiative was created bringing together major German companies ready to develop proposals on the project, offer the latest technologies and take part in localization. We are ready to develop a project of new generation high-speed trains. And today, to this end, we are discussing the creation of an engineering centre with RZD.
We continue to develop the locomotive building industry. For this purpose, we are developing the production capacity for traction components at Siemens Elektroprivod Plant and Voronezh Transformer Plant.
We continue localization and supply of 1,200 Lastochka cars assembled and marked as “Made in Russia” to RZD. This was discussed above.
One of the main future infrastructure development factors is automation. Siemens Mobility also has its own solutions here, which we are ready to replicate today. The gravity hump at Luzhskaya station became the first fully automated gravity hump in Russia. An automatic system for control of train splitting MSR-32 was implemented at the hump yard. Due to innovative solutions, low maintenance and energy efficient equipment, the technical staff was reduced almost by half and the average energy consumption for splitting up of one car reduced by more than seven times. Herewith, the work of the whole hump is controlled by one hump foreman. The hump was constructed on a turnkey basis and all installed equipment is designed to operate during the entire service life of 25 years without overhaul. According to the agreement with RZD OJSC, Siemens will also provide service maintenance of the gravity hump for 10 years.
We consider that the development of cloud technologies is promising for the improvement of transportation efficiency and reduction of investments.
We also work on the technical implementation of autopilot technologies in cooperation with RZD.
A key driver here is digitalization. We can give an example of the first Data Analysis Center in Russia, opened jointly with our customer, Russian Railways OJSC, more than a year and a half ago based on Podmoskovnaya depot. We started work on specific projects to optimize maintenance and train calls to the depot. Due to the work of the center, we forecast the state of the train units, improve availability of the rolling stock and infrastructure, while optimizing operating costs and gradually moving to maintenance according to the state (when the service is based on the technical state of trains and infrastructure). Data transferred to the data center, including online data, will be analyzed, and the results of such analysis will be subsequently transferred to service engineers.