RUSSIA: Alstom Transport and Transmashholding have signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a strategic partnership, and agreed to set up a specialist joint venture company to deliver double-deck coaches for the Russian market.

As well as providing for technical co-operation between the two firms, the MoU includes an option for Alstom to purchase an equity stake in TMH up to 25% plus one share, subject to a due diligence audit. TMH recently confirmed that discussions for Bombardier to buy a stake in the company had been abandoned.

The joint venture is initially focusing on the supply of double-deck inter-city coaches to Russian Railways. Tenders are due this month for supply of 1 210 double-deck vehicles which RZD plans to operate on the St Petersburg – Moscow – Sochi route. These will be to ‘hotel train’ standards, suitable for long-distance routes, with sleeping cars, couchettes and showers as well as full restaurant cars.

Alstom prequalified for the tender in May, and was subsequently selected by TMH to become its technical partner. The two firms have now decided to create a joint venture known as TMH-Alstom DV. TMH will hold a 51% stake, and Alstom the remaining 49%. If the joint venture wins the tender, the trains are likely to be manufactured at Tver, where the existing TMH plant may be modernised or rebuilt.

In the longer term, Alstom Transport and TMH are looking at establishing a joint ‘platform’ for a new generation of freight and passenger locomotives, drawing on expertise from both partners and adapted to Russian requirements. According to Alstom, RZD is expected to purchase around 1 000 locos a year from now until 2030.