Pesa, Škoda Transportation, Stadler Rail and Siemens have been invited to submit financial offers for the contract, which has an estimated value of Lev 450m ($US 263m).

The government has allocated an extra Lev 100m to BDZ towards the order, but Lev 35m a year will be required over the next decade to fully fund the procurement.

The first batch of 42 trains will enter service by 2023, while a further 43 trains will be required by 2028. A decision on the order for the second batch is not expected until after the next parliamentary elections in 2021 or 2022.