VR Group opens 26 new restaurants – double deck restaurant cars to enter service
The first double deck DuettoPlus restaurant car will be introduced in early 2014. The car type is unique in the entire world: on the lower deck there is a modern restaurant and on the upper deck there is a totally new type of passenger compartment.
– The restaurant car is an essential part of Finnish train travel. The oldest restaurant cars are from the 1970s and we want to offer our customers better service with the new rolling stock, says Senior Vice President, Passenger Services Antti Tiitola from VR.
VR has ordered 26 new restaurant cars from Kajaani-based Transtech Oy. The investment is valued at around 68.5 million euros. At the moment VR operates 37 older restaurant cars of four types that are replaced by the new cars. In addition, there are 18 restaurant cars on Pendolinos.
The first new restaurant car starts operating at the turn of January and February between Helsinki and Oulu. The majority of the restaurant cars are handed over to VR Group in 2014 with the last two in early 2015. The cars will operate in long-distance InterCity trains running to e.g. Rovaniemi, Joensuu, Oulu and Kajaani. The train catering services are operated by a VR subsidiary Avecra Oy.
VR Group has in recent years invested in double-deck rolling stock suitable for fast services such InterCity, sleeping and steering cars. The intention is to replace the rest of the blue cars in the coming years. Recently a decision was made to acquire 80 electric locomotives.
New menu in a modern restaurant The Duetto restaurant is on the first deck and has seating for 53 customers. There is a café-bar on the intermediate deck at the one end of the car and a kiosk that can be opened at peak hours at the other end's intermediate deck.
Passengers also can purchase take-away products to take to the passengers compartments quickly and easily. There is a stage for performances in the restaurant on the lower deck. The modern kitchen equipment makes it possible to prepare entirely new types of meals in the kitchen. Thanks to in particular to the efficient oven, meals can be sauteed and can be made crispier than normally.
The menu has some traditional favourites and some novelties: for instance warm breakfast, BBQ chicker with parmesan risotto and the Duetto pastry. The restaurant car's upper deck has a new type of DuettoPlus passenger compartment with seating for 41 customers. Single seats can be turned in any direction. The new 12 seat conference compartment or even the entire upper deck can be reserved for business or leisure use. A waiter can be ordered to the conference compartment, if required.
Representatives of a range of passenger groups, VR Group's train and restaurant staff and experts participated in designing and testing the restaurant car. A plywood model of the restaurant car was made for user testing in January-June 2012.
Environmental considerations were also taken into account in the design of the restaurant car. Waste recycling can be done in the kitchen and in the customer area. There are waste receptable for mixed, bio and combustible waste. The car's light aluminum chassis and led lighting decrease energy consumption.