RUSSIA: The first of 25 double-deck electric multiple-units which Aeroexpress has ordered for its services to Moscow's Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo airports has begun its journey to Russia from Stadler Rail's Altenrhein factory in Switzerland.

The €381m order for 16 four-car and nine six-car aluminium-bodied EMUs based on Stadler's Kiss family was finalised in May 2013. The first four EMUs are being manufactured at Alternrhein, with the rest to be assembled at Stadler's new plant at Fanipol in Belarus. The factory near Minsk will be responsible for commissioning the EMUs, with certification to be undertaken at the Shcherbinka test centre near Moscow.

The 1 520 mm gauge Russian-profile cars are 5 240 mm high and 3 400 mm wide, meaning delivery from Switzerland by rail is not possible. Instead they are being taken by road from Altenrhein to Muttenz near Basel, where the first cars were loaded onto a ship on September 6. They are to be shipped via Rotterdam to Sassnitz and then to Klaipeda, from where they will be taken to Minsk by rail.

The EMUs will have 396 or 700 seats, including 84 in business class, with eight or 13 doors per side. There will be controlled-emission toilets in every car, with one per set being wheelchair accessible. The 3 kV DC units will have three or four drive chains with water-cooled IGBT power converters giving a continuous output at wheel of 2·4 MW or 3·2 MW and a maximum speed of 160 km/h.

Gazprombank is providing a 15-year financing package for the order, with SERV Swiss Export Risk Insurance providing project risk insurance.

The first EMU is scheduled to enter passenger service in June 2015 and the last a year later, providing a 30% to 40% increase in capacity on Aeroexpress services.