BDZ Holding CEO Mr Vladimir Vladimirov told Bulgarian newspaper 24 Chasa this week that the order, which is worth an estimated Lev 420m ($US 265m), will comprise 36 EMUs and five DMUs. A preferred bidder could be announced by the end of the year if there are no appeals.

The EMUs will be designed for 200km/h operation but will run at a maximum speed of 160km/h on the Bulgarian network.

Deliveries are expected to take place within 2-3 years and the first trains will be six-car sets for Sofia - Bourgas and Sofia - Svilengrad inter-city services.

A recent report on future passenger rolling stock requirements indicated that BDZ will need at least 85 new trains. A decision on an order for another 44 trains is not expected until after the next parliamentary elections in 2021 or 2022.