By Duncan Mackay

December 30 - Siemens AG said today it has received an order from Russian Railways to build 54 regional trains that will be used for the 2014 Winter Olympics  in Sochi, which open in exactly 1,500 days.

The industrial conglomerate, based in Munich, said the total order is worth €580 million (£517 million) with a "firm order" for 38 of its Desiro model of train ordered by Russian Railways, accounting for €410 million (£366 million).

A preliminary contract for another 16 trains has already been signed, with those being partially built in Russia.

It was further evidence that preparations are progressing swiftly as Russia gets ready to host its first ever Winter Olympics.

Dmitry Chernyshenko, the President and chief executive of Sochi 2014, said: "Today marks 1,500 days until the world's finest athletes will take part in an inspirational Winter Games for the first time in Russia.

"That is 1,500 opportunities to deliver thousands of achievements that will make Sochi 2014 a truly innovative Games, with a long-term legacy for sport and society.

"2010 is a big year for us.

"We will receive the Olympic Flag at the end of Vancouver 2010 and take a full and active role in the IOC (International Olympic Committee) Observer Programme at those Winter Games.

"We will see SC Olympstroy deliver major progress in the development of all Olympic and Paralympic venues and state-of-the-art infrastructure.

"And our record-breaking commercial programme will go from strength-to-strength, including launching the program to create our Olympic and Paralympic mascots and announcing many more commercial partners for Sochi 2014.

"Quite simply, you will see Sochi 2014 accelerate in 2010 as we make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime Olympic and Paralympic opportunity."

Among the facilities that are progressing are the Bolshoi Ice Palace (pictured), which will stage ice hockey during the Olympics, which is expected to be one of the highlights of the Games.

Alexander Zhukov, Russia's Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the Sochi 2014 Supervisory Board, said: "Preparations for the Winter Games in Sochi are going in strict accordance with plans.

"The high ratings received following the regular visits of IOC and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) experts are a strong demonstration of our excellent progress.

"This year, the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee has implemented a number of important projects.

"Key among these were the presentation of the new Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games brands, milestones which were the result of two years work and which also serve as a momentum boost for further achievements.

"The Sochi 2014 marketing programme is being successfully implemented. Industry-leading companies are fighting for the right to become partners of the Winter Games, which makes the Sochi 2014 project a great example of public-private partnership.

"After all, the Winter Games in Vancouver are almost upon us, where Sochi 2014 is preparing a large-scale programme to present the Host City of the next Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to the rest of the world.

"I am confident that next year, we can expect to set new records."

Chernyshenko said: "The Organising Committee is continuing to increase the level of commercial funding for Sochi 2014.

"Current partnership investments therefore amount to more than $850 million (£758 million)."

The result of the Supervisory Board meeting was the approval of the 2010 financial plan as well as the ratification of the volunteer programme concept for the Winter Games.

Moreover, by 2010, the organisers have the task of ensuring the adoption of bills for amendments and additions to existing legislation concerning the interests of volunteers.

A network of volunteer centers will additionally be created in Russia next year in order to attract, select and train Sochi 2014 volunteers.

The Supervisory Board members commended the preparatory work for volunteers carried out by the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee in 2009.

In 2010, the Sochi 2014 will implement a series of priority projects, which include Russian 2014 Sochi House and Russian Cultural Week in Vancouver, the transfer ceremony of the Olympic flag and the Russia-wide voting and selection of the Winter Games mascot.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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