Latvia Skoda EMU (Photo Skoda) (3)

LATVIA: Passenger operator Pasažieru Vilcien, now rebranding as Vivi, has put its first Škoda Class 16EV electric multiple-units into passenger service.

‘We are taking a big step forward in the development of train travel and we continue to work to ensure that more and more passengers choose to travel by train, ensuring regional accessibility, helping the country to meet its mobility goals and passengers to have a more pleasant experience’, said Chairman Rodgers Jānis Grigulis at the launch on December 15.

Latvia Skoda EMU (Photo Skoda) (2)

The order was placed in 2019. Škoda obtained type approval on November 17 this year and three trains are now in service, with 18 expected to be in traffic by the end of 2023 and all 32 by mid-2024.

The EMUs will operate from from Rīga to Aizkraukle, Tukums and Skulte, and in the future to Jelgava. A clockface timetable is planned, featuring a train every 15 to 20 min in the peaks.

The EMUs are based on Škoda’s RegioPanter family, modified for the 1 520 mm gauge and clearances which allow wider bodies.

Latvia Skoda EMU (Photo Skoda) (1)

The four-car sets are 109 m long with 436 seats and a total capacity of 890 passengers. There are two wheelchair spaces, and all doors have level boarding. Features include air-conditioning, audiovisual passenger information and wi-fi.

The EMUs have a design speed of 160 km/h, although they are currently limited to 120 km/h because of the current condition of the infrastructure.

Latvia Skoda EMU (Photo Skoda) (4)

In a moved linked to the launch of the new fleet, on November 29 Pasažieru Vilciens began transitioning to new brand name, Vivi.

This is derived from the first two letters of the words Vienā Vilcienā‚ meaning ‘on one train’, which ‘symbolises moving from point A to point B in a fast, predictable and reliable way’. It also derives from the Latin vivus meaning alive. The name is intended to improve the operator’s international recognition, as part of plans for expansion in the Baltic region.