THIS month VR is to put into service the first five of 20 double-deck sleeping cars being built by Talgo Oy. The €2·9m cars will enter revenue service between Helsinki and Rovaniemi from February 1.

The entire fleet will be in service by August, allowing 33 older vehicles to be offered for sale or scrapped in 2006-08.

VR says the sleeping cars 'are designed to meet the needs of as many passenger categories as possible'. The upper level has eight compartments, each with two beds, a toilet and shower. The mezzanine and lower floors have 11 compartments, with three pairs having connecting doors. Each lower compartment has a wash basin, and a shower and toilet are located on the mezzanine floor. All beds have an alarm clock, GSMbooster, and power and radio sockets.

The lower floor is 550mm above rail level, and has a wheelchair-friendly compartment with level access from platforms. This is adjacent to an accessible toilet, which also has a baby food heater and changing table. Nets can be attached to the beds to prevent children from falling, and throughout the cars all colour schemes, buttons and labelling have been designed to aid passengers with visual impairments.

End compartments have straps for skis, and separate compartments are provided for passengers with allergies and for those accompanied by pets, who can use a compartment with space for an animal basket, a leash hook and a separate air outlet.

The cars were designed by Talgo and Citec Engineering Vehicles. The aluminium bodyshells are assembled from Alcan profiles and Fibrocom composites, and Hübner gangways are fitted around Polarteknik end doors. IFE supplied the side doors, and Italian firm SIVIS the windows. Stadler subsidiary Winpro produced the bogies, with wheelsets from Bonatrans and brakes supplied by Knorr-Bremse.

The cars have around 75% Finnish content, with Joptek providing the compartments, EC Engineering supplying interior panels, and EVAC, Sinex, Marico and Oy Pumppu-Lohja responsible for the vacuum toilets and plumbing. Insta Visual Solutions provided the passenger information systems, EKE, KMT Group, Noratel, Msc Electonics the onboard electrics, and Lumiko the heating and air-conditioning, with Vacon inverters. Scada Control and Pikotec provided fire and water monitoring systems.

VR Sleepers in Brief

Length mm 26400
Width mm 3200
Height mm 5220
Bogie centres mm 19800
Weight tonnes 59
Axleload tonnes 19
Maximum speed km/h 160