ROMANIA: Open access operator Astra Trans Carpatic ran its inaugural train from Arad to Bucureşti Nord via Sighişoara and Braşov overnight on February 2.

The new operator is backed by Valer Blidar, who also owns rolling stock manufacturer Astra Vagoane Călători Arad which has supplied two six-car rakes of coaches for the service. Traction is provided by Servtrans. Including the rolling stock and track access charges, the project is believed to represent an investment of up to €20m.

Each train is formed of one first class coach, two sleeping cars and three couchette cars. Tickets are initially being sold onboard, with online sales expected to be introduced before the end of February. Fares for the 619 km journey taking 11 h are similar to those offered by national operator CFR Călători, ranging from €24 in a first class seating car to €54 in a sleeping car. Water and coffee is included for couchette passengers, while first class tickets include sandwiches.

Astra Trans Carpatic will initially operate one train in each direction on alternate days until February 19, when a daily service in each direction is to be launched.

A Timișoara – Oradea service is expected to be introduced in the near future, and a Timișoara – Wien service is planned for the third quarter of this year.