CZECH REPUBLIC: The first Škoda battery-electric multiple-unit for state operator České Dráhy was officially unveiled at the Rail Business Days trade fair in Ostrava on June 11.


The unveiling was attended by Transport Minister Martin Kupka and officials from the Moravskoslezský region where the first four units are due to be deployed later this year.

During the event, ČD and Škoda Group signed a contract for an additional 15 two-car sets, with at least half of them to be delivered within 29 months. Including spare parts, staff training and up to 15 years of maintenance, the deal is valued KC3·5bn.

Designated by ČD as Class 690 and by Škoda as 15Ev3/HV19, the BEMUs are derived from the Class 650.2 RegioPanter EMU, and are intended to operate on partially electrified routes. They can take power at 3 kV DC or 25 k5 50 Hz, and are equipped with a lithium-titanium-oxide battery which can be charged from the overhead or from a plug-in external supply.

With a continuous rating of 1·4 MW, the two-car single deck BEMU is 52·7 m long. It can run at up to 160 km/h under the wires or 120 km/h on battery, with an off-wire range of 80 km. The partially low-floor units with level boarding have 148 seats, including eight in first class. There is space for two wheelchairs, nine bicycles and four prams, as well as 175 standing passengers.


From the December timetable change, ČD plans to deploy the initial four BEMUs to operate through services between electrified and non-electrified lines in Moravskoslezský, offering faster journeys by eliminating the connecting time. All four routes are partially electrified at 3 kV DC:

  • Ostrava – Opava – Krnov (57 km, of which the first 28 km is wired);
  • Ostrava – Suchdol nad Odrou (36 km), continuing off-wire to Nový Jičín (8 km) or Budišov nad Budišovka (39 km);
  • Ostrava – Český Těšín – Frýdek-Místek (73 km, of which 46 km is electrified). When the 14 km non-electrified section from Frýdek-Místek to Ostrava-Kunčice has been renovated, trains would be extended over this line and a further 8 km under the wires back to Ostrava, creating a 95 km circular service.


‘Thanks to co-operation with the regions, České Dráhy is a leader in regional rail transport innovation’, said Chairman & CEO Michal Krapinec. ‘Co-operation with Moravskoslezský kraj has enabled us to become the first carrier in the Czech Republic to order and put into operation dual electric units that are powered by either overhead wires or batteries. This reduces carbon emissions when operating on non-electrified lines and makes it possible to offer direct connections between electrified main lines and secondary routes.’

‘In the Moravskoslezský region, we support clean mobility in the long term’, explained Deputy Governor for Transport Radek Podstawka. ‘Electrification of rail transport is one of our main priorities, and passengers will certainly appreciate this change; travelling will be more comfortable, and more efficient.’

‘At Škoda, we have many years of experience in the production of vehicles with batteries’, added Vice Chairman Tomáš Ignačák, who is President of the group’s Central East region. ‘Battery trains are the next logical step in how to utilise our know-how and show our partners that today we are able to offer an ecological alternative for almost every mode of transport.’