RUSSIA: Russian Railways signed an order for a further eight Siemens Velaro RUS high speed trainsets on December 19. The contract is worth €600m, including a 30-year maintenance agreement.

The 10-car trainsets will be manufactured at Siemens' Krefeld plant in Germany for delivery from January 2014. They will be used to increase capacity on the Moscow - St Petersburg route, where the first Velaro RUS trains entered service in December 2009 running at up to 250 km/h. A Moscow - Nizhny Novgorod service was launched in July 2010.

Increasing the fleet will provide spare capacity during train maintenance, and offer the possibility of running in pairs to provide 20-car trains.

Siemens said the newly-ordered trains will include an additional premium class area and a 'superior-comfort' VIP zone, with all cars offering internet access.

At the contract signing, RZD President Vladimir Yakunin said Sapsan services between Moscow and St Petersburg 'have become an integral part of the transit infrastructure for the residents of the two cities'; RZD presented a certificate to the five millionth Sapsan passenger on December 17.