RIGA - The new Skoda Vagonka (Skoda") electric trains are planned to be put into operation using the train movement safety system of the Blok communication block made in Russia, observing the prerequisites for reducing security risks, Sigita Zviedre, the representative of joint-stock passenger rail company Pasazieru Vilciens told LETA.
She explained that the issue of using the Blok train movement safety system in electric trains has been thoroughly evaluated by the competent authorities. Based on their recommendations, a set of risk reduction measures has been developed to eliminate the identified security risks and ensure the safe operation of Skoda trains.
"Currently, the production process of the Skoda trains is being continued, and the operation of electric trains is planned to start with the Blok train movement safety system, observing the prerequisites for reducing security risks in the process of its installation and operation," said Zviedre, adding that Pasazieru Vilciens will continue to evaluate options and additional security solutions with the competent authorities in order to gradually replace the technical solutions developed by the Russian company with those produced in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area.
As the Zviedre explained, Blok is a local movement safety system, which, if necessary, the train driver can manually turn off and continue the train movement with the Blok system turned off. Its installation in trains ensures compliance with the rules of railway technical operation. Blok automatically brakes the train before a prohibitive signal at a traffic light if the driver does not do this manually, thus minimizing human risk factors and creating additional safety.
As reported, the State Security Service (VDD) and IT security incident response institution Cert.lv said that Russian-made communication systems are being used in new Skoda trains. The specialists noted that functionality of these systems is related with train movement management and monitoring. It cannot be excluded that these systems can be used maliciously in the future, commercial TV3 television reported.
Then Transport Minister Talis Linkaits (Conservatives) said in an interview with the television that, considering the complicated situation and risks to lose EU funding, the train procurement will be completed, but the risky Russian-made systems can be replaced later.
LETA also reported, Pasazieru Vilciens is expected to receive all 32 electric trains by the end of 2023. Each of them will consist of two wagons. The length of one electric train will be 109 meters and each train will have 436 seats.
The project costs are EUR 257.889 million with co-funding from the EU Cohesion Fund worth EUR 114.211 million.
The first train was delivered in June 2022 and so far Latvia has received five electric trains.