CZ/SK verze

Stadler won a contract to supply cars for the Serbian railways

Stadler won a contract to supply cars for the Serbian railways
photo: Stadler/Stadler
16 / 10 / 2021

In the February tender, Srbija Voz announced three four-car two-storey EMUs for the Beograd – Novi Sad line, which Russian and Chinese companies upgraded to 200 km/h. The completion of the modernization is estimated to be December of this year.

The requirement concerned units with a maximum speed of 200 km/h for a voltage of 25 kV 50 Hz and with a minimum power of 4 000 kW and a maximum of 6 000 kW. The train length should be 100 m ± 5 m, axle configuration Bo'Bo' + 2'2' + 2'2'+ Bo'Bo' and a maximum axle load of 22,5 t. The capacity includes 300 seats in the first and second classes with a deviation of about 5 seats and at least two seats for wheelchair users. According to the Regulation, the train must have at least three toilets, at least one of which complies with the PRM TSI. Technical equipment includes PZB ATP and ETCS Level 2 Baseline 3 onboard system. One of the essential requirements was the shortest possible delivery time.

The deadline for the submission of tenders was set for mid-March. It was won by a single candidate, Stadler Rail. On 5 April, it won a contract worth EUR 62,2 million. Stadler was the only one able to meet the short delivery times, as the first unit was due to arrive in Serbia in October, with the remaining two units by the end of 2021. No one can answer the question of why the tender was announced so late.

As a result, three EMU KISSes were eliminated from the series, currently, under construction at the St Margrethen plant for WESTbahn, the trains have been shortened to a four-car and 15 kV 16,7 Hz traction device has been adjusted to 25 kV 50 Hz. The resulting train has 316 seats, two wheelchair spaces, and five toilets (four standard and one TSI PRM toilet). With a continuous power of 4 000 kW, it also meets other parameters specified in the specifications stated before the start of the tendering procedure.

The new KISS kits are to be put into operation from February 2022 on an upgraded high-speed train ("brza pruga Beograd – Novi Sad"), which connects one of the two largest cities in Serbia. The line has been closed since February 2019 due to reconstruction and since then passengers have had to use a replacement bus service.

The 34,5 km long Section of Beograd – Stara Pazova is being built by China Railway International and China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). The project is estimated to be worth $350 million. Most of the project is covered by a $297,8 million loan from China. The remaining $52,6 million is covered by the Serbian budget.

The 40,4 km section of Stara Pazova - Novi Sad is being built by RZD International. The value of the project is estimated at $247,8. The Russian loan is $210,7 million, and Serbia's participation covers $37,2 million. The same company is also building a viaduct and tunnel near Čortanovci (southeast of Novi Sad), where the agreed amount is USD 337,6 million, of which the Russian side's share represents USD 287 million and the Serbian state budget share is USD 50,6 million.

Work on the tunnel began in September 2017 and on the viaduct on 1 November of the same year. One tube reaches a length of 1 086 m and was embossed on April 3, 2020, the other tube measures 1 156 m. The viaduct is 2,9 km long and is supported by 59 pillars, some up to 26 m long. Its parameters have become the largest viaduct in the country, even among road viaducts. Due to the specific geological conditions in this section, it was also necessary to build strong concrete retaining walls that stabilized the terrain and prevented it from moving towards the Danube.

Work on the tunnels and viaduct ended in April 2021. On 24 August, a ceremony took place at the viaduct, celebrating the connection of the new Stara Pazova - Novi Sad railway by thematically laying the last track. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić also attended the ceremony. "Brza pruga" should be completely completed by the end of the year, and testing of trains at a maximum speed of 200 km / h will begin in January.

It is alleged that there were problems during the project, unfortunately, their exact specification did not occur. In the Chinese section, it was necessary to replace about 1200 columns during the construction of the rail line. An exception was not even the Russian section with a similar problem on the viaduct at Čortanov. The biggest problem is the unrecoverable sections in which erratic situations occur due to a large number of underground electrical and water installations.

Serbia's anti-corruption government is also discovering financial ambiguities. "Investments for which interstate agreements have been concluded instead of transparent procurement procedures and where funds are spent in a non-transparent manner will cost Serbian citizens a lot of money," they say. 

The Beograd – Novi Sad fast track project continued to Subotica border station and on to Budapest was launched in 2014 at a summit of 16 central and eastern European and Chinese countries. In 2015, then-Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić announced that Serbian citizens would be able to use the upgraded line from 2018. As we already know, the announcement was not due to various legislative delays, such as Hungary's accession to the EU, which had to issue a new tender for the non-transparency of tenders. For the same reason, construction work in Serbia, which was part of the tripartite agreement, was delayed.

Daily operation is scheduled to start in February 2022, when trains made up of KISS EMU trains should complete the Belgrade – Novi Sad route in 25 minutes. The complete modernization of the line up to the Serbian-Hungarian border should be completed by 2024, with the cost of the 107 km long Novi Sad – Subotica section is estimated at USD 1,2 billion.