Alstom unveils 360km/h train

French engineering giant Alstom has unveiled the prototype of a new high-speed train. The AGV (Automotrice Grande Vitesse) will be able to cruise at 360km/h, compared with 320km/h for current models.

The single deck, state-of-the-art train has a futuristic and aerodynamic design and incorporates articulated carriages, a technology which contributed to the success of France's TGV train, and a new distributed drive system. It was developed at Alstom's specialist high-speed train centre in La Rochelle.

Italy's first private rail operator, NTV, has already ordered 25 of the new trains for ̈́4;650m, including a 30-year maintenance agreement, and has an option for ten more. Production will begin in mid-2008, and they will be delivered from 2010 onwards.

The AGV is the first train in the world to combine an articulated architecture (with the bogies located between the carriages) with a distributed drive system (the train's motors being located on the bogies, under the train). This arrangement will give operators great flexibility. They will be able to vary the length of their trains (from seven to 14 carriages, and from 250 to 650 seats) depending on demand. It will also substantially reduce maintenance costs.

Alstom says the train is particularly environmentally friendly, with a 15 per cent lower energy consumption than its main competitors. It incorporates the latest ERTMS signalling standards so will be able to be run on all European lines.

The AGV's novel traction system has already been tested under extreme conditions, as it was used in the train that set the world rail speed record of 574.8km/h on 3 April 2007.

Patrick Kron, chairman and chief executive officer of Alstom, said: "We have developed this train using our own funds, a very unusual approach in the railway industry, because we understood that the market for very high-speed rail travel was about to diversify. In order to maintain our leadership, we needed to broaden and update our range of products. The AGV has arrived on the market just at the time when very high-speed rail travel is undergoing a new expansion phase, not only in its traditional markets, but also in many developing countries."

Over the past 25 years, Alstom has sold more than 650 TGV trains. It has just won major orders from Argentina and Morocco for TGV Duplex (double-decker) trains.

Image: The new AGV

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