The Deutsche Bahn company (Germany) is ready to consider the possibility of supplying 100 used regional diesel trains with air conditioners and vacuum toilets to Ukraine at residual cost. Experts from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ukrainian Railways public joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia) are expected to visit Germany next week to analyze the cost of re-equipping the rolling stock.

Ukraine’s Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelian announced this after a visit to Berlin on October 12, the CFTS portal reports.

According to Omelian, he expects a flurry of criticism because the German trains will require long-term certification and the cost of re-equipping them will be significant. On the other hand, according to the minister, the current reform of Ukrzaliznytsia does not provide for significant upgrade of regional trains and there are no funds for a global upgrade of such rolling stock.

"It is premised on a simple logic: the current ‘reform’ of Ukrzaliznytsia does not provide for a substantial upgrade of the rolling stock of regional trains and, consequently, millions of citizens are being asked to lose consciousness every summer as a result of suffocation and freeze in the winter for another decade. Obviously, this does not apply to people who travel in Mercedes vehicles. We currently have 165 diesel trains, including 112 in operation, and 118 of them need to be removed from the inventory by 2021. Therefore, a collapse is not far off. Nobody is even talking about new rolling stock," Omelian wrote on his Facebook page.

"We may now hear a flurry of criticism about how dangerous German trains are compared to handmade Ukrainian classic designs of the 1950s, how it will take forever for leading institutions to certify them, and how the cost of adaptation will exceed the cost of a new train, although nobody knows when this new train will be produced, who will produce it, and what money will be used to buy it. In reality, we have a real chance to actually replace our fleet of regional diesel trains at an ultra-low price and give millions of Ukrainian citizens the opportunity to travel on comfortable trains for at least 15 more years from the end of 2018," Omelian added.

As reported, the issue of buying used German rolling stock for suburban and regional railways has been raised in the past, although the focus then was on electric trains and not diesel trains.

Back in June, Omelian said that the Ukrainian authorities were negotiating with the German government on transfer of used electric trains to Ukraine for re-equipment for use in Ukraine.

In September, the minister said that Ukraine was interested in buying all the electric trains that the Germans could offer.

The head of the parliament’s transport committee, Yaroslav Dubnevych, later said that he opposed purchase of old German electric trains for use on Ukrainian railways until the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ukrzaliznytsia could prove that this would be an effective solution.

According to Dubnevych, preliminary calculations by Ukrzaliznytsia’s technical experts show that deep modernization of German rolling stock could cost UAH 250-280 million per eight-car train compared to UAH 70-80 million for modernization of Ukrzaliznytsia’s electric trains manufactured by Ukrainian enterprises. Ukrzaliznytsia’s financial plan for next year makes no provision for funds for financing such modernization.

"In principle, it is impossible to use German railcars under our conditions without reconstructing them. There are many reasons for that. Here are at least two of them: we will have to throw out the entire electrical wiring and replace the entire bogie in each railcar. In essence, only the salon will remain... I will remind you, for example, that the alternating-current electrical system in in electric trains in Ukraine is based on a voltage of 27 kV at a frequency of 50 Hz while the one in German trains is based on a voltage of 15 kV at a frequency of 16.7 Hz," Dubnevych wrote on his Facebook page.