ZSSK Tatra Stadler rack EMU

SLOVAKIA: Five rack-and-adhesion trainsets built by Stadler for ŽSSK’s metre gauge rack railway between Štrba and Štrbské Pleso were formally launched into revenue service on February 16.

The event was attended by Boris Kollár, Speaker of the National Council, Slovak Minister of Transport & Construction Andrej Doležal and State Secretary Katarína Bruncková, along ZSSK Chairman Roman Koreň, ŽSR Director General Miloslav Havril and Stadler Rail CEO Peter Spuhler.

ZSSK Tatra Stadler rack EMU

Equipped with a von Roll rack, the 4·8 km Štrba – Štrbské Pleso line connects with the 35 km metre gauge Tatra Electric Railway at Štrbské Pleso. Services were suspended in July 2020 to facilitate a comprehensive modernisation of the infrastructure at a cost of €20m.

The Class 495.95 EMUs were ordered in October 2018 at cost of €38·8m, along with a two-axle multi-purpose dual-power locomotive. Designed to run at a maximum speed of 80 km/h in adhesion mode, the rack-and-adhesion EMUs are based on the Class 425.95 GTW2/6 trainsets supplied by a consortium of Stadler, ŽOS Vrútky and Adtranz in 2000-02 and 2006 for the Tatra line. They are expected to replace three Class 405.95 two-car trainsets supplied by SLM in 1969.

ZSSK Tatra Stadler rack EMU

The new units have been named Ganek, Kostolík, Stredohrot, Bradavica and Vysoká, after five peaks in the High Tatra mountains. Each can accommodate up to 179 passengers, with 91 seats, and two wheelchair spaces. The air-conditioned units are fitted with CCTV, passenger information displays and onboard wi-fi, along at-seat electric charging sockets and a passenger counting system.

The first of the five trainsets was delivered to Poprad depot in January 2021, and the units have been operating over the adhesion sections of the Tatra railway since mid-December. A new snowplough has also been supplied by Swiss manufacturer Zaugg.

Meanwhile ŽSSK has launched a €31·5m modernisation programme for the Class 425.95 units, of which €30·1m is coming from EU funds. ŽOS Vrútky will install air-conditioning, while the seats will be replaced and a new control system installed, along with an information system with LCD displays. The first vehicles are expected to re-enter service at the end of 2022, with all 15 to be refreshed by November 2023.