Today in France: Alstrom unveils their 4th generation high-speed train

When living, or simply travelling in France it’s difficult to not be impressed by the “TGV”, short for Train à Grande Vitesse, (High Speed train). TGVs travel at commercial speeds of up to 320 kilometers an hour (about 200 miles an hour), which connects Lyon to Paris in only two hours. Eurostar is also a TGV line and connects Paris to London in as little as 2 hours and 15 minutes. Last year a TGV set a new world speed record for a wheeled train, cruising at a cool 574.8 km/h (357 mph)!

The TGV was originally developed by the SNCF, the French national rail company, and GEC-Alsthom, now Alstrom.

Alstrom unveiled yesterday their 4th generation high-speed train, called the AGV, for “Automotrice à Grande Vitesse”.

Classic TGVs have a locomotive at the front and back of the train. Alstrom reports that the new AGV technology distributes the drive system into each wagon. This will allow for even greater commercial speeds, as high as 360 kph (227 mph) and, more importantly perhaps from a business point of view, an increase in the number of passengers that can be onboard. According to Alstrom, the new train will also consume about 15% less energy than its competitors, making it even more attractive in today’s “greener” market.

For the first time, Alstrom developed this new technology using their own funds and the AGV will be an Alstom trademarked product (The TGV was a SNCF trademark). They are anticipating the need for replacement of the aging fleet of current TGVs but also the interest for high-speed trains in new markets around the world. Indeed, high-speed train lines have become real and viable alternatives to air or car travel. With the current global warning concerns, and with crude oil bouncing around the $100 mark, the TGV and the new AGV, both electrically powered technologies, are finally starting to turn heads everywhere, even in the United States. In fact, the new AGV has already found its first purchaser, the Italian private railway company Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV). Anticipating the market in this way is of course not without risks, but I’m betting that this will pay off for them.

You can also read Le Monde’s article (in French) for a few more days.

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