LEO Express fleet of Stadler Flirt electric multiple-units.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Open access inter-city operator LEO Express launched its first passenger-carrying services between Praha and Ostrava on November 13.

The trial service of two round trips a day runs until November 16, as part of the final stage of the approvals process for its fleet of five Stadler Flirt 160 km/h five-car electric multiple-units. The regular service of eight round trips a day is due to begin with the December 9 timetable change.

LEO Express will serve Praha Hlavní , Pardubice, Olomouc, Ostrava-Svinov and Ostrava Hlavní, competing against Czech Railways and open access operator RegioJet which launched in September 2011. End to end journey time will be 3 h 6 min, comparable to CD's flagship Pendolino service.

The five-car Flirt EMUs offer economy, business and premium classes, with seats supplied by Borcad and free wi-fi using Nomad Digital technology. Newspapers and magazines are available, along with power sockets, real-time information and on-train entertainment.

In the longer term LEO Express hopes to launch open access services from Praha to Ceské Budejovice, Wien and Plzen. It is also interested in contracts to operate subsidised services.

  • Leo Express founder Leos Novotny explained his ambitions for the open access operator in the October 2011 issue of Railway Gazette International, which subscribers can access in the digital archive.