By Duncan Mackay

Dmitry Medvedev at ceremony handing over trainDecember 1 - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has attended a special event where Russian Railways (RZD) received a first new electric passenger locomotive that will cut the journey time between Moscow and Sochi by more than half by the time of the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The EP20 electric passenger train has been made by Transmashholding and Alstom in Rostov and can run at a maximum speed of 200 kilometres per hour, the first of its kind to be produced in Russia.

Currently the 1,359 kilometre journey between Moscow and Sochi, on the Black Sea, can take up to 32 hours.

But, with the introduction of the new trains, that could be cut to 15 hours by the time of Sochi 2014.

Transmashholding and Alstom will be delivering three trains a month to RZD by early next year to help ensure that there is plenty of capacity by the time the Games open on February 7, 2014. 

Transmashholding and Alstom EP20 trainTransmashholding and Alstom have developed the EP20 electric train which will dramatically cut travel times between Moscow and Sochi by the time of the Olympics

Medvedev hosted the ceremony, which was also attended by Valentin Gapanovich, senior vice president of RDZ, Vasily Golubev, the Governor of Rostov region, Andrey Bokarev, chief executive of Transmashholding and Patrick Kron, chairman and chief executive of Alstom.

The main advantage of the EP20, according to experts, is its dual-system is that it allows the locomotive to operate on tracks, which are electrified both with direct and alternative current.

The locomotive is equipped with asynchronous traction drive which allows a significant reduction in life cycle costs, with longer intervals between maintenance operations and significant energy savings.

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