WORK is under way on a 5ha site next to the present station in St Petersburg to build a terminal for the planned high speed line to Moscow being promoted by the Russian High Speed Railway Shareholding Co, RAO VSM. While the company still does not have enough secure finance to build the whole 654 km line, it seems that an initial section will be completed from St Petersburg to Novgorod, although environmentalists continue to oppose the project.

RAO VSM’s confidence was underlined on March 10 when the Ministry of Railways announced a two-stage open tendering process to select companies to manufacture and deliver a fleet of Sokol (Falcon) high speed trains, of which 150 units comprising 12 vehicles are required. Responses should be sent by April 24 to ’Zheldorsnab’, 107228 Moscow, Novo-Ryasanskaya str 12, or fax +7 095 924 42 02 or +7 095 262 223 52.

RAO VSM has meanwhile released more details of progress with the prototype Sokol, which will have a design speed of 250 km/h. This will be tested on the existing main line between St Petersburg and Moscow.

Bodyshells for the six-car unit are being assembled at the state-owned Almaz shipyard in St Petersburg, and these will be sent to the Tikhvin machine plant, 160 km east of St Petersburg, to be married up with the air suspension bogies that are being fabricated there. Traction motors to be installed on all cars will come from the Sila company in St Petersburg. The train’s styling and design is in the hands of the Rubin design office, and the results should be visible later this year.

The prototype will be followed by a 12-car set next year, and series production is expected to get under way in 2001.

  • RZD is electrifying the 90 km Konosha - Nayandoma section of the Vologda to Archangelsk line, and wiring work is also in progress on the Idel - Belomorsk section of the St Petersburg - Murmansk line. o