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Railways getting rid of old trains

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Trains older then 40 years should finally disappear from Czech tracks. As soon as the state and regions agreed on financing the railway transport in the next 10 years, Czech Railways (ČD) CEO, Petr Žaluda, announced that the company will launch a train exchange on a scale that has not been seen here before. Starting next year, ČD wants to spend CZK 8 billion on exchange of old trains every year.

“We want to lower the average age of trains from the current 30 to 15 in the next seven years,” Petr Žaluda said. The railways own some 4,000 wagons.

Where to get the money?
It will not be easy to fulfil the plan. The company has therefore set up a first base. The company plans to get CZK 10 billion for the train renewal by 2015. EU will offer CZK 4 billion during this period and ČD needs to save the remaining CZK 6 billion. Žaluda even promises to save more than the CZK 10 billion package so that annual expense stays between CZK 5 billion – CZK 8 billion. “That money will be used for the renewal permanently,” he said.

ČD wants to invest money from revenues, the sale of assets and loans the company gets. Banks should renew the 10-year contracts for transport operation that ČD signed with the state and regions. The contracts guarantee CZK 120 billion in the next 10 years.

It is almost certain ČD can get the money. Pardubice Governor Radko Martínek (ČSSD), who represented the regions in the contract negotiations, expects the regions to order the regional transport from the Czech Railways. “ČD has the strongest position,” he said. In the passenger transport, however, the company has not been very successful. This year recorded a loss of CZK 3.2 billion. The money had to be paid for by the regions and state and ČD had to save up part of it.

Get rid of the ageing trains
ČD promises to exchange the express trains as well as the regional trains. The renewal of the trains has been stagnating up until now. It stopped in the 1990s but since 2003, when some CZK 1 billion went into the renewal, the sum has been constantly growing. This year it will be some CZK 4.5 billion.

Last year’s sum was similar. Thanks to that some 40-year-old pantograph trains disappeared from Prague’s surroundings. This year, ČD plans to buy 100 used wagons for distant transport, new regional trains or suburban City Elephant trains.

Train producers will present the new trains to ride the Czech tracks in the next years to the region and Transport Ministry representatives in October. Czech Railways will call a tender for new trains in spring next year.

There is a number of producers that can apply for the tender. The biggest ones are Siemens, Bombardier, Alstrom, Škoda and Stadler. According to the Transport Ministry, the victorious company will supply the new trains approximately two years later.

Money will also go into modernisation of the old trains. Czech Railways announced on Thursday that a Šumperk-based company Pars nova will modernise 37 regional trains for CZK 700 million between 2010 and 2012.

New trains were originally supposed to be running already this year between Prague and České Budějovice. However, only one company entered the tender and the offered sum was 80% higher than what ČD expected. ČD is likely to call a new tender for eight new trains and a six-year lease.

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