Siemens/Russian Rail Collaboration: 10 Facts About Sapsan High Speed Trains

After retrofitting and final tuning at the depot, the new train will go for certification tests and will start its route in the summer of 2022.

Even 12 years after the appearance of high-speed trains on the network of Russian railways, Sapsans can still surprise

Even 12 years after the appearance of high-speed trains on the network of Russian railways, Sapsans can still surprise |  Mechanical engineering

photo: Ivan Shapovalov / Russian Railways Press Service early September, the first of thirteen new Sapsans, which make up the third batch of high-speed trains, arrived at the Metallostroy depot. The contract for its supply was signed by Russian Railways and Siemens in 2019.

 After retrofitting and final tuning at the depot, the new train will go for certification tests and will start its route in the summer of 2022. Today we will tell you about the unique features of these trains.


Photo: Ivan Shapovalov / Russian Railways Press Service 

1. Originally from Germany

Sapsan is based on the Velaro platform of the German concern Siemens AG, which, in turn, is an improved version of the high-speed electric train ICE 3. This platform has been used since 2001, and its modifications operate in Europe, China and Russia. The main advantage of Velaro is its multi-unit scheme with distributed traction and the ability to place all the necessary equipment in the space under the train cars. The car is assembled from separate panels that are welded together. The total length of welded seams in one Sapsan car is more than a kilometer. In the construction of the train, special double-glazed windows with increased noise insulation are used.

2. Innovation for Russia

During the creation of “Sapsan”, which received the European name Velaro RUS, the original platform has undergone many changes and improvements. Starting with the fact that the dimensions of the train increased taking into account the larger track gauge (1520 mm instead of 1435 mm), thanks to which the interior became wider than the standard one by almost 30 cm, and ending with the development of new ventilation and cooling systems. The improvements have also reduced the load on each wheelset, increased grip when accelerating and improved driving performance.

Numerous special materials are used in the construction of the train, better suited to the harsh Russian operating conditions. In particular, they are used in an optimized and more efficient electrical system, which is characterized by reduced energy losses due to fewer conversion steps.

Each head car of “Sapsan” is equipped with a domestic automatic coupling sa-3. In the event of a failure of the contact line, the train can be pulled out by any locomotive.

In general, according to the results of the development of “Sapsan”, more than 60 patents were issued, registered in Europe, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. For example, even a special profile of the surface of the railway wheel has been patented, which reduces the contact pressure when interacting with the rail. The patent holders are Russian Railways OJSC and Siemens AG.

Photo: Ivan Shapovalov / Russian Railways Press Service
3. Reliability and frost resistance The

temperate continental climate of the European part of Russia places high demands on the characteristics of the train. Among other things, “Sapsan” must operate without restrictions at an air temperature of –40 to +40 ° C. To fulfill this condition, special materials are used in the manufacture of fasteners, seals and plastic parts. And in winter, the air cooling the components of the traction drive is taken in through the roof air ducts with a protective sump, specially designed for the Velaro RUS.

The increased reliability of the Sapsan is also ensured by the distribution of the traction system across all the cars and the placement of two engine units in different halves of the train. Three-phase asynchronous electric motors with a capacity of 8 thousand kW require a minimum of maintenance. For the train to move, it is enough to operate three out of four engine blocks in order to reach the destination with 75% thrust in the event of a failure of one of them.

The AC electrical system allows the circuit to be disconnected, in which the train can continue to move at the expense of one of the two parts of the system, and if one DC current collector fails, the second one can be used on the same carriage. The materials used in the electrical system components allow it to operate at an ambient temperature of –50 ° C.

Photo: Maxim Kashirin / Russian Railways Press Service
4. Advanced electronics

The train’s electronic control system evaluates and monitors the condition of the Sapsan. Its work uses a communication network that combines two separate subsystems: a common one for the train and a multifunctional carriage. With their help, uninterrupted data exchange between equipment is realized. Also, improved domestic developments are used: the KLUB-U device ensuring traffic safety and a technological radio communication system.
At the same time, all technical modules are evenly distributed throughout the train and mounted in the undercarriage space.
The third car from the head car is an AC transformer for the entire train, and the fourth is a voltage converter. A powerful storage battery is installed in the fifth car.

Photo: Ivan Shapovalov / Russian Railways Press Service
5. Economical brakes

“Sapsan” is equipped with a regenerative braking system, which reduces energy consumption and mechanical wear. This braking allows the current generated by the motors operating in generator mode to be returned to the grid. 

Switching the brake from electrodynamic to pneumatic mode is automated. Also, all cars are equipped with mechanical parking brakes with spring energy storage. 

Each carriage is equipped with a sea sand container. It spills out directly under the wheels if the grip on the rails weakens, for example in icy conditions on the tracks.

6. Full-length work

Russian regulations demanded that the driver be able to work while standing if the travel time exceeds three hours, which was not provided for by Siemens trains prior to the creation of Velaro RUS. Therefore, the cab was changed, increasing the space so that a train driver with a height of 190 cm could manage the train. Thanks to this innovation, two people can also be in it at the same time.

Photo: Ivan Shapovalov / Russian Railways Press Service

7. Superiority and innovation

Sapsan became the leading Russian train not only in the technical part, but also in many other areas, and its experience was then extended to other trains. It was in it that a complete ban on smoking first began to operate. It became the first train to receive compensation for being late. In it, the fare began to be regulated by a special Dynamic Tariff Management and Demand Stimulation System (DUTISS), which is responsible for pricing. Before traveling in it, for the first time for Russian trains, it became necessary to go through a preliminary contactless inspection, as before boarding an airplane. A wireless local area network Wi-Fi appeared on board. In addition, Sapsan became the first domestic train to have its own social media accounts.

8. Record length

In 2014, the half-kilometer Sapsan entered the Guinness Book of Records as the longest high-speed train in the world. The length of the double train of 20 cars, running between St. Petersburg and Moscow, was 500 m 78 cm. The record was recorded and notarized in the presence of members of the independent commission after measurements using a standard measuring tape. The passenger capacity of the 20-car train reaches 1050 people.

Photo: Sergey Gusev / Russian Railways Press Service
9. Updates for passengers

In 2020, Sapsan won the XI annual award “Consumer Rights and Quality of Service” in the “Railway Transportation” nomination. It is recognized for the development of the service provided and the improvement of the services on board.
The award, based on the voting of the expert council and the choice of consumers, was awarded to the updated train, which launched at the end of 2019, the modernization of which was based on the wishes of passengers. The main innovations affected the interior and convenience for travelers: each seat was equipped with sockets for charging mobile devices and USB connectors, the brightness of the lighting began to be adjusted depending on the time of day, coolers with drinking water were installed in the cars, and the upholstery, seat covers and window covers were replaced. curtains.

10. Speed ​​potential The

maximum design speed of the Sapsan is fixed at 300 km / h. At the same time, for the Velaro platform itself, it reaches 350 km / h (in particular, for the Spanish modification Velaro E).
On domestic railways, the speed of Sapsan is limited to 250 km / h due to the nature of the infrastructure. However, during pre-operational tests in May 2009 on the Moscow – St. Petersburg line, it accelerated to a record 290 km / h. Therefore, the train has the potential to accelerate movement, although it now allows you to overcome the 645-kilometer route with several stops between the two largest cities in the country in just 3 hours and 45 minutes. Moreover, for most of the route, its speed does not exceed 200 km / h.

By the way, the peregrine falcon, which is the fastest bird, can accelerate to 322 km / h during a dive. And, perhaps, his railway namesake will one day overtake his brother.


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