The Desiro Rus train, or Lastochka as it is known in Russian, departed from St Petersburg travelling to Chudovo and Veliky Novgorod. The trains will soon used on a daily service on this route as well as on the St Petersburg – Chudovo – Bologoye line during the winter timetable. Passenger services in Kazan and Sochi, the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, will also begin using Desiro Rus trains by the end of the year.

The ceremony was attended by Mr Valentin Gapanovich, senior-vice president of RZD, Mr Dmitry Pego, general director of high-speed passenger services at RZD, Mr Alexander Drozdenko, governor of the St Petersburg region, and Mr Jochen Eickholt, CEO of Siemens Rail Systems, who said that the trains have been delivered ahead of schedule.

"When RZD and Siemens commenced production of the Lastochka series at Siemens' plant in Krefeld, Germany, in April 2011 we were aiming to put the new regional trains into service by autumn 2013," Eickholt says. "But we managed to ship the first trains sooner and to complete the testing and homologation phase considerably earlier than planned. This is why we are able to commence passenger revenue service in January 2013."

The first tranche of 38 Lastochka trains ordered by RZD has been in production since April 2012 with 18 delivered so far. By the middle of 2013 production of the second batch of 16 trains will start at Ural Locomotives factory in Yekaterinburg, a joint venture of Siemens and Sinara.

Russia's Registry of Certification on Federal Railway Transport approved the trains for use on the Russian network in mid-December 2012. Tests carried out at the Rail Tec Arsenal facility in Vienna where winter conditions were simulated are now being replicated in real conditions in Russia and Siemens says that as a result of these tests it is confident that all 38 trains due to be used in Sochi during the Olympics will meet passenger requirements.