The first shortened ComfortJet train set consisting of six carriages has arrived today at the test track circuit of the Railway Research Institute in Velim. This event means the beginning of the extensive testing and approval procedures concerning the ComfortJet units, at the end of which their supplier, the Siemens Mobility – Škoda Group consortium, must obtain approval for regular operation on railway lines in our country and abroad. The ComfortJet units will operate on international routes from Prague to Hamburg, Graz, Budapest and other destinations. They will be put into service gradually between 2024 and 2026.
České dráhy has ordered a total of 20 nine-carriage ComfortJet units from the Siemens Mobility – Škoda Group consortium. These units are based on the successful Siemens Viaggio Comfort platform. These are push-pull train sets with a control car on one side and a Siemens Vectron locomotive on the opposite side. This configuration facilitates the turnaround of the trainset at the destination stations, because there is no need to change the locomotive.
“The beginning of the testing phase of the new ComfortJet train set on the test track circuit near Velim takes the ComfortJet project forward by another important step, without which it is not possible to put the brand-new train set into service. It is now up to our suppliers and their partners to complete the tests on the time planned and to the required quality and to get the units approved in time for regular operation. We would like to put the first of them into operation already during 2024, although without the control car and dining car for the time being yet,” says Michal Krapinec, Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of České dráhy.
“We expect the first unit to be put into operation during the first quarter of next year. The exact date will depend on Siemens and Škoda, which must test the trains and ensure their approval at the railway authorities. We would like to start their trial operation on the Prague-Ostrava connection and then to extend it to the Berliner trains between Prague and Berlin. In the next phase of production and testing, the dining car and control car will be added to the train sets and by 2026 we would like to start their full-fledged operation in the push-pull mode with Siemens Vectron locomotives not only to Germany, but also to Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, and we want to succeed with their deployment also on trains to Denmark,” says Jiří Ješeta, member of the Board of Directors and Deputy Director General of ČD for Passenger Transport.
The ComfortJet units are designed for speeds up to 230 km/h. This top speed will be used by these train sets, for example, on the Berlin-Hamburg section, or on other new railway lines such as the Koralmbahn in Austria or the upcoming high-speed lines in the Czech Republic.
“The first six of the 180 Viaggio Comfort cars ordered for České dráhy left the manufacturing plant in Ostrava and have arrived at the VUZ test track circuit in Velim today. In the upcoming weeks, they will undergo various tests and trials there which are necessary for the approval of the vehicles in the seven European countries where they are planned to operate. Among other things, the passenger information system will be tested there. The new vehicles, which are being produced in the Siemens – Škoda consortium at the plants in Vienna, Munich and Ostrava, represent a truly European project which is to strengthen the position of České dráhy on the railways in the upcoming decades,” says Roman Kokšal, CEO of Siemens Mobility in the Czech Republic.
“There are currently ten more ComfortJet carriages in various stages of development at our production plant in Ostrava. Some of the cars are undergoing electrical system debugging procedures and static testing. Another part of the cars, which are now undergoing the final assembly phase, will soon be heading there,” says Tomáš Ignačák, President of the CZ/SK Region at Škoda Group.
The non-traction ComfortJet units will offer a total of 555 seats, of which 99 are located in first carriage class. Another 18 seats are located in the dining section. The train will offer an on-board Wi-Fi network, 230 V sockets and USB connectors for powering travel electronics, electric wheelchairs and electric bicycles. The train set is adapted for wheelchair passenger travelling and features a dining compartment, children's cinema, space for storing prams, bicycles and other large luggage and offers a number of other benefits which modern trainsets usually provide, such as a free-passable interior throughout the train.