Lastochka High-speed Train
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And Then Came Lastochka...
Taking the Russian name for the fast-moving bird, the swallow, the Lastochka is designed to provide high-speed service even within the weather extremes experienced in many parts of Russia. The high-speed Lastochka train covers many destinations. It has numerous routes connecting major Russian towns including Moscow with Nizhny Novgorod, Saint Petersburg with Petrozavodsk, and the famous resort region Sochi. In December 2009, the Sapsan was entered into service, becoming the first Russian high-speed train. Running between St. Petersburg and Moscow, the service by this Siemens-built electric marvel, cut the land travel time from overnight to about 4 hours, making it competitive timewise going from city center to city center with air travel (without the associated hassles). A year later, Allegro, produced by the French train company Alstom, entered service, offering high speed rail between Helsinki in neighboring Finland and both Moscow and St. Petersburg. On January 23, Siemens improved its domination of the development of Russian high-speed rail with a second great innovation created specifically for Russian Railways, the Desiro RUS electric light rail train, better known as the Lastochka. Although German-made, it is a wholly Russian light rail train. "It is designed to operate in Russia’s climate and meet our technology standards and special requirements regarding safety and environmental protection. It meets the needs of the most discerning passenger," said Valentin Gapanovich at a ceremony before Lastochka's first run between St. Petersburg and Bologoye.