Russia is inevitably keen to make an impression and is currently rolling out a major infrastructure construction programme that will help to serve the thousands of expected visitors. At the heart of these plans is the construction of a new 48km railway and adjacent 45km road that will provide access to the Olympic venues around the ski resort town of Krasnya Polyana, while revamped rail services will serve the Olympic park venues on the improved coastal mainline.

Russian Railways (RZD) is responsible for the combined road-rail project which is costing Roubles 227bn ($US 6.95bn) to complete, with the railway responsible for 60% of the overall cost. Work got underway on the rail project in June 2008 and involves building six railway tunnels totalling 10.85km as well as 33 viaducts and bridges on the single-track line that will include numerous passing loops. The line will rise 600m from the terminus at Adler, with an average gradient of 2%, and rising to no more than 4%. Services will be offered at headways of 15 minutes at peak times with a journey time of 27 minutes from Adler to the terminus at Alpika-Servis.

RZD says that work is now 75% complete and remains on schedule to be finished in April 2013, leaving time for testing and commissioning to open the line by the end of the year, ahead of the Games on February 7-23 2014.

In addition to Alpika-Servis which will serve up to 8500 passengers per hour during the Olympics, and 5196 at other times, a new station is being built at Esto-Sadok, where a cable car will provide access to the ski jump area and buses will be offered to the other Olympic sites.

The existing Adler station is also being expanded to handle the increase in capacity, with around two-thirds of the new 21,900m2²space now complete and due to be finished by the end of this year. A new seven-storey building is the centrepiece of the revamped station that will serve up to 24,000 passengers per hour during the Olympics and 15,000 after the Games. Construction of Olympic Park station got underway in 2010. It is expected to handle 12,500 people during the Olympics, and 6500 afterwards.

Existing line

Improvements to the existing 102.8km line from Tuapse to Adler, which were completed in April, are aiding construction of the railway and Olympic sites. The project involved adding eight passing loops totalling 30km which has increased capacity from 54 trains in each direction per day in 2008 to 70 at present.

Another project that has already been completed is the 2.8km airport railway link, which opened earlier this year. The current five trains per day service to Sochi via Adler will gradually be increased in the run-up to the Olympics.

Services on the airport link and the Olympic railway line will be operated by a fleet of 38 new five-car Siemens Desiro Rus emus.

The first 160km/h train is currently undergoing testing on the Aero Express line while two more sets are being commissioned at Siemens' Metallostroy depot in St Petersburg.

Dubbed "Lastochka" or "Swallow" by RZD, the dual-system trains operate under 3kV dc electrification on the airport branch and mainline, and on 25kV ac on the new Olympic line. Train location is provided by the Glonas satellite navigation system.

Siemens says the first train should enter revenue service in November or December of this year and that all 38 trains will be delivered by November 1 2013. Following the conclusion of the Olympics many of the trains will be transferred to airport express services in Moscow with some remaining in Sochi for use on regional services. However, RZD has not confirmed how many of the trains will be transferred to the capital.