Sapsan high speed train.

RUSSIA: A Sapsan high speed trainset reached 281 km/h during trials between Okulovka and Mstinskiy Most on May 2. 'This is the first time that such a speed has been achieved on the Russian railway', said RZD Senior Vice-President Valentin Gapanovich.

The trials are scheduled to last until November. Taking place on three routes, they include running at 10% above the planned service speed and testing of the changeover between AC and DC electrification systems.

RZD placed the €276m order for eight Velaro RUS 10-car trainsets with Siemens in May 2006. It subsequently adopted the Sapsan brand for the high speed trains, which are designed to run at a maximum of 300 km/h.

They will enter passenger service from December 2009, running at 200 km/h for most of the 586 km Kryukovo - Kolpino section of the 645 km route between Moscow and St Petersburg, though reaching a maximum speed of 250 km/h.

Running at 200 km/h will give a journey time of 3 h 45 min, but infrastructure modernisation could allow 230 km/h in the future. 'This will place Russia firmly in the club of countries with high-speed transport', said Gapanovich.