Russia unveils high-speed train on deadly bomb route
Friday 18 December 2009
Russia on Thursday unveiled its first high-speed train linking Moscow and Saint Petersburg, which will travel on a route targeted in a deadly bombing just last month.
The Sapsan, a red and grey train with a price tag of hundreds of millions of euros, set off from Moscow's Leningrad station at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) on its first commercial run.
It will carry around 600 passengers between Russia's two biggest cities in three hours 45 minutes, faster than the four-and-a-half hours the journey took before.
Built by German firm Siemens, the Sapsan - which means peregrine falcon in Russian - will travel at speeds of up to 250 kilometres per hour (155 mph) over a distance of some 650 kilometres.
Vladimir Yakunin, head of Russia's state-owned rail firm RZD which is running the new train, hailed the Sapsan as "not just a train, but another life, another technology, another form of transport."
But celebrations marking its launch were muted in the wake of the bombing of Russia's elite Nevsky Express, which ran on the track the Sapsan will use and also linked the country's two biggest cities.
The blast late on November 27 derailed the Nevsky Express, killing 27 people and injuring about 100 more. It has been claimed by the so-called "Caucasus Emirate", an umbrella group uniting various militant Islamist factions,
By chance, part of the Sapsan was undergoing tests close to where the blast hit and was involved in rescue efforts, carrying several hundred stranded passengers away from the site of the attack.
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