State-run Czech Railways will launch tenders this year worth a record 16 billion crowns ($858.4 million) for new trains and modernise old ones, a spokesman said.

The contracts will be paid through 2014, company spokeswoman Radka Pistoriusova said.

The loss-making passenger and freight railway operator is in the middle of a multi-year turnaround plan to modernise its fleet, raise efficiency and boost competitiveness as the Czech rail system opens up.

Czech Railways put new and modernised trains worth around 4.2 billion crowns into service in 2009 and will put new and re-worked trains worth 4.5 billion into operation this year.

The company’s revenue dropped 14 percent in the first half of 2009 to 13.75 billion crowns. It narrowed its operating loss to 64 million crowns from 2.03 billion, mainly due to a 1.6 billion crown state subsidy compensating regional transport. (Reuters)