One of the most photographed monuments in Moscow, the iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square. Take the Talgo and enjoy Moscow’s stunning sights!
By Rose Maramba
Sources: marcaespana.es/en, talgo.com, russianrail.com
Berliners and Muscovites can now cross national borders without changing trains.
Travelers without borders
Moscow and Berlin are now closer to each other than ever. Nearly five hours closer. How? The new trains linking the two European capitals, manufactured by the Spanish company, Talgo, are equipped with a revolutionary system that automatically swifts track gauges and a tilting technology that enables a considerable increase in speed. The maiden voyage, N 013/014 Moscow–Berlin, kicked off last 17 December from Moscow Kurskaya railway station.
The trains operate under the brand name Strizh (“Swift”) which alludes to one of the main characteristics of the service: as fast and agile as the bird Swift (Strizh in Russian). Top speed: 200 km/h (124 mph).
It was a really cold evening (8 degrees below zero) but the inaugural train on the Moscow-Berlin overnight route began its first journey right on time. The twice weekly* 2000-km route, with its terminus in Berlin Ostbahnhof, has stopovers in four countries: Russia, Belarus, Poland and Germany.
Strizh arrived at Ostbahnhof early on Sunday, 18 December. On the very same day it took off for its Berlin-Moscow inaugural run.
Among those on hand at the Moscow station for the launching of the Moscow-Berlin Talgo line were Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s Minister of Transport; Oleg Beloziorov, President of the Russian Railways RZD; Piotr Ivanov, Director General of FPK, RZD’s inter-city unit; Íñigo de la Serna, Spain’s Minister of Public Infrastructure and Transport; Julio Gómez-Pomar, Spanish Secretary of State for Infrastructure and Transport; Carlos Espinosa de los Monteros, High Commissioner of the Spain Brand; and Carlos Palacio Oriol, President of Talgo.
“Russia is one of our main customers,” Talgo’s President said, “and Talgo is proud to be able to connect two of the most important capitals of the world while making the journey more comfortable, faster and safer for travelers.”
The newly launched service is covered in a €130-million agreement signed by Talgo and RZD, which consists of supplying seven trains by the Spanish manufacturer. Four of these trains serve the Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod line, launched in June 2015. The remaining three will connect Moscow to Berlin, attesting to the relevance of the Spanish rail industry in the Russia-Spain trade relations.
Fast and fantastic
The Talgo trains were chosen by the Russian railway company for their automatic track-gauge change system, with variable gauge wheelset and axles that are adjusted in a few minutes, with no need for the train to stop. This way, the passengers can travel across national borders without changing trains.
Like Spain, Russia’s track gauge is different from the standard in the rest of Europe. The Strizh trains will change gauge in Brest (between Belarus and Poland). While it takes conventional trains almost 2 hours to switch to the narrower European track gauge, the Talgo trains can perform the same task in just 20 minutes. This helps cut travel time on the Moscow-Berlin route from 24 hours 49 minutes to 20 hours 14 minutes and from 25 hours 59 minutes to 20 hours 35 minutes on the Berlin-Moscow route.
Besides, Talgo developed an innovative energy-saving system that prevents ice from building up on wheels and axles in cold winter weather, reusing the hot air that comes from the passenger coaches.
*The train departs twice a week: on Saturday and Sunday from Moscow, Sunday and Monday from Berlin. It goes through Smolensk, Orsha, Minsk, Brest, Terespol, Warsaw, Poznan, Rzepin and Frankfurt (Oder).
>Featured image by Sergey Rodovnichenko via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, cropped
>Train/Marca España, Fair Use
>Oberbaumbrücke/Hans-Jürgen via Flickr, CC BY-ND 2.0
>Inaugural photo/Talgo.com, Fair Use
>Matryoshka dolls/S. Faric via Flickr, CC BY 2.0
>Brest/LHOON, CC BY-SA 2.0