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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Railways Ministry Rolls Out New-Look Train

APPrime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov sitting behind the controls of the new train at Kievsky Station on Friday.
The Railways Ministry on Friday unveiled a new concept train it says will cut costs and make life more comfortable for suburban commuters.

Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who joined Railways Minister Gennady Fadeyev for the rollout of the 10-car EM2I-001 at Kievsky Station, called the new train a good example of the kind of affordable innovation needed to renovate the nation's aging and neglected rolling stock.

"The need for modernization and replacement of the whole railroad's rolling stock is one of the key issues of reforming the railroad industry," Kasyanov was quoted by news agencies as saying.

The Railways Ministry estimates that more than 40 percent of the nation's trains need to be replaced, but it does not have the cash to do so. Fadeyev said the Moscow Suburban Train project shows it is possible to modernize existing trains for a fraction of what new ones cost.

"It is a conceptual train with unique solutions," Fadeyev said.

Designers at the Moscow Locomotive Repair Plant completed the cosmetic, mechanical and structural overhaul of the train for about $2 million, or 40 percent of what a new train costs. As a result of what it says are more than 150 innovations, Moscow Railways, the branch of the ministry in charge of the project, expects to save $150,000 a year per train in operating costs.

The train unveiled Friday will go into commercial use on Aug. 1 as a 45-minute express link between Paveletsky Station downtown and Domodedovo Airport, some 45 kilometers to the south. Moscow Railways eventually plans to use the new model on all its routes, but at least by the end of the year it expects to have five more trains and operate a minimum of one every hour to and from Domodedovo between 4 a.m. and 1 a.m.

Fadeyev said the cost of a ticket would not exceed 60 rubles, but it would be included in the cost of airplane tickets to and from the airport. Airplane passengers will also be able to check-in their luggage at Paveletsky Station.

The new train even looks a bit like an airplane, at least on the inside: gone are the notoriously uncomfortable Soviet-era wooden benches, which have been replaced with 80 cushioned, high-back plastic chairs.

"Many Russians spend nearly half of their life on suburban trains, that's why ... they would appreciate the comfort, speed and safety of new suburban trains," Kasyanov said.

Other features include a new heating system for better temperature control, noise-reduction technology, better suspension for a smoother ride and an electronic display board similar to a stock ticker in each car that provides information for the passengers.

The train also contains a video system that allows the conductor to monitor what is happening in each car.

One thing, however, that the engineers did not improve was the number of toilets.

Just as it was more than a century ago, when Russia got its first suburban train, there are still no easily accessible toilets. There is one toilet at the beginning of the 10-car train, but it is for the conductor, and one at the end, which all passengers must share -- a situation that has created notoriously long queues and the motivation to use the platforms between cars.

When asked why toilets had not been added during the overhaul, a Moscow Railways spokesman, who asked that his name be withheld, said, "You know our passengers, they damage everything."