The South Bohemian Regional Assembly has approved the conclusion of the Contract for Public Service in the Field of Passenger Transport by Rail with České dráhy (ČD). This is good news for inhabitants of the South Bohemian Region thanks to the fact that five more brand-new RegioPanters, which are the most modern electric train sets offered by the ČD rolling stock, will be running on our railway lines next year. The region will deploy them on the railway line between České Budějovice and the Horní Dvořiště border railway station, and between Lipno nad Vltavou and Rybník. The Contract between the South Bohemian Region and České dráhy was signed on Wednesday, 29 November.
On behalf of the South Bohemian Region, the document was signed by Martin Kuba, Chairman of the Regional Council: “Thanks to this Contract, we will get another five new modern train sets here, and we will have all railway lines electrified by the 25 kV system serviced by modern trains. And it should also be said that if we had not purchased those trains, they would have been bought by other regions which were seeking them. This means that in my opinion it is a great success that we have managed to negotiate them to the South Bohemian Region.”
For the period of the 2023/2024 timetable validity period, the Regional Authority expects to pay over CZK 580 million for more than 2.9 million train kilometres run on the basis of the Contract. “I am convinced that the contract which we have made is very good. We will have to slightly increase the amount which we pay for transport services, but the inflation rate and the increased price of energy are also reflected therein this year. Within the framework of these facts, the increase is really at a minimum level,” stated Mr. Kuba, adding that on the whole the Regional Authority pays more than CZK 1.9 billion per year for transport services. This amount includes complete rail and bus transport services.
The modern RegioPanter units are low-floor, air-conditioned train sets equipped with a modern audiovisual information system. “These trains can also serve as a mobile 'train office'. The time spent on the journey can be used for work, studying activities or watching films, for example, thanks to Wi-Fi connection, electrical sockets, USB ports or extension and folding tables,” described Michal Krapinec, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of České dráhy.
The new units will enable direct running of trains in the Jindřichův Hradec / Tábor – České Budějovice – Lipno nad Vltavou section, which will increase passenger comfort, speed and, above all, the required safety. The units will be equipped from the factory with the ETCS control system, which would otherwise have to be additionally installed to the existing older rolling stock. The financial savings in terms of electrical energy, but also in terms of repair and maintenance costs, are also significant. “We are now concluding a contract with České dráhy, which is to purchase these units. This will ensure the best possible service for our passengers. These are really trains of the twenty-first century,” emphasised Antonín Krák, Deputy Chairman of the Council of the South Bohemian Region for Transport, and clarified that five new trains will be deployed during the next year. In total, nineteen new RegioPanters will operate in the South Bohemian Region.
The Contract is concluded for the period from the beginning of the 2023/2024 timetable validity until the end of the 2032/2033 timetable validity, i.e., for a total of ten annual timetable periods. The contracted transport capacity is estimated at 3.05 million train-kilometres per year, which may be increased by 20% or reduced by 10%. For the 2023/2024 timetable, a volume of 2.92 million train-kilometres is ordered. The compensation rate for 2024 is CZK 198.60 per train-kilometre and the total compensation for the 2023/2024 timetable is planned at CZK 580 million. The compensation per train-kilometre and the total compensation will change in the subsequent years according to the inflation rate development. České dráhy will invest a total of CZK 585 million in new vehicles. CZK.
In addition to RegioFox units, České dráhy will deploy RegioFox diesel motor units from the Poland-based manufacturer “Pesa Bydgoszcz” in the region next year. “Even these units will offer passengers with maximum travel comfort. They are powered by Rolls-Royce engines which can run on HVO biofuel in addition to diesel oil. Next year, passengers will have a possibility of trying them on the railway line from Veselí nad Lužnicí to České Velenice, and then they will be used on the railway line from Tábor via Milevsko to Písek and Strakonice. At the same time, we will also improve the quality of travelling on our oldest electrified line between Tábor and Bechyně. Four-axle cars with Btn class bogies featuring an air suspension system are in a trial operation there,” concluded Jiří Ješeta, Member of the Board of Directors and Deputy Director General of ČD for Passenger Transport.
As a small pre-Christmas courtesy on the occasion of the signing of the new Contract, on Saturday 2 December 2023, České dráhy will offer the inhabitants of the South Bohemian Region an opportunity to take a train trip from České Budějovice to Lipno nad Vltavou and back for a symbolic price of one crown; this ticket can only be purchased from the conductor on the board of the trains concerned. The offer is valid for train connections departing from České Budějovice at 9:04 hours and arriving at Lipno nad Vltavou at 10:50 hours. On the return journey the train departs at 11:10 hours and arrives at České Budějovice at 12:56 hours. It is possible to get on or off the train anywhere along its route.