MORE than 100 press and media representatives were present on July 28 at a roll-out ceremony for the Sokol (Falcon) high speed train at Tikhvin, 200 km east of St Petersburg, on July 28. Star guest at the event was Vladimir Starostenko, Russia’s Minister of Railways.

The 280 km/h blue and white streamliner was unveiled by Director General of the Russian High Speed Railway Co (RAO VSM) Vladimir Tulaev and his Deputy, Valery Savvov, in the presence of local government officials and the train’s suppliers. Starostenko noted the courage of RAOVSM and all those involved in putting together the Sokol train ’at a time that is so unfavourable for Russia’ and emphasised that more than 90% of the train’s components were manufactured in Russia.

The train was formally handed over for static testing before being hauled to the All-Russian Railway Research Institute (VNIIZHT) at Shcherbinka. Once the trials are completed, the train will be tested on the 654 km main line between St Petersburg and Moscow, parts of which have been fettled up for 200 km/h.

Design and manufacture has been split between around 60 companies, many of them former military organisations. Lead designer was the Rubin Central Design Bureau of Marine Technology, and others involved included VNIIZHT, the St Petersburg State Railway University, Transmash, VNII Transmash Ltd, the Almaz Shipbuilding Co, Torzhok Carriage Factory, the Central Shipping Research Institute for Electrotechnical Engineering & Technology, and NOP Aurora.

Sokol features all welded bodies of aluminium alloy, magnetic rail brakes, dual-system traction equipment for 3 kV DC and 25 kV 50Hz operation, VVVF traction controls with three-phase asynchronous induction motors, a new design of pantograph, environmentally-friendly air-conditioning and vacuum toilets.

The six-car set is formed of two electrical units. The leading car is a trailer with 32 first class seats and a five-seat deluxe salon. Behind it is a power car with 38 first class seats in two saloons, and the third car, unpowered, carries the main transformer; it has 30 second class seats and a bar. Car 4 is another transformer car with two second class saloons seating 76, and Car 5 is an 80-seat second class power car. Car 6 is identical to Car 1. Only one end car has been furnished, the rest have test equipment.

Six, nine or 12 car formations are planned, and two 12-car sets will be able to run in multiple. RAOVSM anticipates developing both tilting and double-deck versions. Giprotrans TEI Institute envisages that there will be demand for 80 to 90 12-car sets by 2010.

CAPTION: RAO VSM’s Sokol prototype was unveiled in the Transmash plant in Tikhvin on July 28. Inspecting the train were, from left to right: Deputy Minister of Railways A Kondratenko, Director General of RAOVSM Vladimir Tulaev, Acting Governor of the Leningrad Region V Serdjukov, Head of the October Railway A Kuznetsov, Minister of Railways V Starostenko, and Valery Savvov, First Deputy Director General of RAOVSM and head of the Sokol project

CAPTION: Left: Four discs are mounted on the axles of Sokol trailer bogies

Below left: First class saloon with 2+1 seating

Centre: Deluxe salon in the leading car

TABLE: Main characteristics of prototype six-car Sokol trainset for Russian Railways

Gauge mm 1520

Power supply 3 kV DC and 25 kV 50Hz

Overall length m 162·5

Overall width mm 3120

Maximum height above rail mm 4680

Interior height in saloon mm 2300

Bogie wheelbase mm 3000

Continuous rating kW 3440 / 5400

Tare weight tonnes 303·5