Austria's national railway company, ÖBB (Österreichische Bundesbahnen), has awarded the contract for the modernisation of couchette coaches to public transport vehicle manufacturer Škoda Group.
The contract includes the modernisation of six coaches for the ÖBB Nightjet fleet. Škoda Group will carry out the work at its production site in Šumperk, with the modernised coaches to be delivered by for 2024. Škoda considers the contract, which includes an option for twenty-eight more coach modernisations, to be a significant milestone in its attempts to strengthen its market position in the Region West.
The Škoda production site in Šumperk has experience in modernisation and repairs of different types of railway vehicles. The modernised couchette coaches will feature comfortable beds, modern lighting and updated bathrooms as well as a new barrier-free compartment. Škoda asserts that with its expertise and innovative solutions, the modernised coaches will offer passengers a comfortable and enjoyable night train journey.
Coaches modernised by Škoda are already in operation in Finland and other European countries. Škoda Group will be producing nine sleeping coaches and eight freight wagons for cars for Finnish state railway company VR Group. The trains will be produced at Škoda's Finnish production site in Otanmäki, and will be in service by the end of 2025. The individual cabins are designed to resemble hotel rooms, so that passengers can work comfortably and rest undisturbed during the journey.
Jan Christoph Harder, President Region West at Škoda Group, said, “We are thrilled to have been awarded this contract by ÖBB and to have the opportunity to modernise their couchette coaches. We have years of experience in the field of service and modernisation and we'll deliver products to enhance the passenger experience. Austria and the wider region West are very important markets for our group, and this contract further strengthens our commitment to the region. However, we aren't newcomers to the region. We produce state of the art trams for a number of German cities. And in February this year, we established Škoda Group Austria subsidiary with the team of technical engineers and designers, providing a home for our business in Austria and giving us the opportunity to grow.”