LE TGV | Le train le plus rapide du monde
On October 1, 1964, the first Shinkansen line opened between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan. This is the first high-speed train to enter service, with a maximum speed of 210 km/h on certain sections of the line. The train is certainly fast but it also carries many more passengers than those of previous generations, it is modern, comfortable and beautiful. And yet at the beginning of the project, the Shinkansen was denigrated by the whole world, which saw the future in the automobile and the aviation, while Japan was building a new rail network, with a gauge of the rail superior to the previous Japanese trains. Building new routes through the Japanese mountains was neither easy nor affordable, but in just three years, the Shinkansen carried 100 million passengers, an undeniable success.
France, inspired by the Japanese project, has the ambition to do even better, a machine with even greater speed. Hello and welcome, this is Yataka talking to you, and today we are talking about the TGV, the high-speed train that has pushed the limits of speed on rails. The entry into service of the Shinkansen was literally a planetary shock, while the United States spent billions on highways and razed cities to build parking lots, this Japanese train ridiculed planes and automobiles. All the great powers were obviously inspired by this success, including France. In the 1950s, the SNCF was already experimenting with a revolutionary train concept, trains using gas turbines to propel themselves.
Three prototypes are built by Renault, merchant ship turbines are installed in the test locomotive 040 GA1 and two old CC 80 000 locomotives. The 040 GA1 enters service in March 1952, first used as a test locomotive, it is then used to tow other trains, it passed through many cities to end its career in La Rochelle before being destroyed in 1959. It reached a maximum speed of 140 km/h. Terribly noisy, its results are very disappointing. The two CC 80,000s won't do any better. The two Diesel locomotives will have good results during their tests, however they will quickly be exceeded in power by other locomotives with a diesel-electric motorization, in other words with a Diesel engine producing electricity for electric motors which themselves charge of traction.
In October 1966, an EAD XBD 4300 locomotive was transformed, this train was chosen because it was light and easy to modify. The front of the motor car is completely redone, the new nose is much more aerodynamic, resistant and light thanks to its polyester fiber structure, its old diesel engine is preserved. A Turbomeca Turmo III turbine engine is installed in the trailer of the former EAD now renamed TGS for Special Gas Turbine and is registered TA-101. The heavy modifications were completed in 1967 and the tests on this new Turbotrain began on April 24 of the same year. The old EAD barely reached 120 km/h, but with its new turbojet it could reach more than 230 km/h with a record speed during the tests of 252 km/h, at the time a world record.
The transformation of the machine is a real success which reinforces the SNCF in this choice of propulsion. In 1968 the C03 project was launched, this project aimed to lead to the construction of a high-speed line between Paris and Lyon, a faster service than its predecessors, with new turbotrains and a new line dedicated to great speed. A completely new train will therefore be needed to connect the two metropolises in record time, also a high- speed Turbotrain. The SNCF decides to build with Alstom two prototypes of trains capable of reaching 300 km/h. The first test train is called TGV 001, made up of two powerful 3500 kW motors and three trailers.
Two other trains are then planned, train B to test the pendularity and train C which was to be of a much simpler design but much less ambitious and efficient. Train C was quickly abandoned because it was of little interest, and the development of train B was only linked to the background. Train A was to be the famous TGV 001.
The TGV 001 was to be a major technological advance for its time: All trains have what are called bogies, these are the parts under the cars where the axles are. To allow the trains to take turns, the bogies can rotate independently. All the bogies are identical on the TGV 001, they each have an electric motor, suspensions and different braking systems, in particular electromagnetic brakes. But the greatest strength of these bogies is their placements, traditionally a train car has 2 bogies, one at each end, this placement gives great flexibility to the train, one can easily add or remove cars. But the TGV 001 places its bogies between the cars, the latter are placed on a carrier ring connecting the cars with a ball joint. It is the ring placed on the bogie which therefore supports the mass of the cars.
This configuration makes a huge difference, firstly each bogie weighs 10 tons, fewer bogies means less mass but also less contact surface with the rail, therefore less resistance. It is also a much more secure configuration: if the train derails, the other bogies are less likely to derail in turn and the train is less likely to go into accordion. Each bogie has an electric traction motor, these motors obviously need energy to be set in motion, this energy will be provided by the turboprops housed in the two motor cars. Each of the two power cars has two bogies, two Turmo III turbines and a 4000 liter kerosene tank. At the beginning of the 1970s, a kerosene-powered TGV did not seem like a bad idea, the price of oil was low and developing a catenary and a pantograph for high speed would be complicated. On March 23, 1972, TGV 001 was presented to the press. Obviously the new train
is a huge success, it is the stylist Jacques Cooper who designed the engine of the machine, with its futuristic curves and its characteristic orange, which we love or hate. But one thing is certain, the train leaving the Alstom workshops does not look like a train. The TGV 001 had already started its first tests on March 20, but the real test campaign did not begin until April 4 when the train reached 120 km/h between Belfort and Vesoul.
During the first test phase, the train reached a maximum speed of 220 km/h between Strasbourg and Mulhouse on May 3, 72. After a brief period in the SNCF workshops, the test train was sent to the Landes to continue its high-speed tests, the line from Bordeaux to Bayonne was chosen because it was incredibly straight. The prototype resumed its tests on July 21, it gradually increased in speed and on September 29 the train exceeded 314 km/h. A new world record In October 1973, he had visited many French lines and had driven almost 130,000 km. The TGV 001 was undoubtedly a technological success thanks to the experience gained during its tests but also a media success, the train had visited Paris, Brussels, Lyon and many other large cities and had left an indelible futuristic impression there. The high-speed line project between Paris and Lyon is not just credible, it is beginning to materialize. We can already imagine trains powered by
gas turbines criss-crossing the country at 250 km/h. Except that we are in October 1973, and in October 73 begins the first oil crisis, concretely the countries of the Persian Gulf increase by 70% the price of the barrel of oil to answer the American support for Israel, leading to fuel shortages and an explosion of the latter's price. In this economic and political context, the idea of having kerosene trains crossing the country seems oddly much less appealing. It is therefore decided that from now on, the TGVs will be supplied by catenary. It was for a time considered to design a hybrid version capable of circulating on non-electrified tracks. But the electrification of the tracks was done “too” quickly in France, the idea was therefore without interest.
From the experience gained with the TGV 001, a new high-speed train will be designed but unlike the latter and the Shinkansen, it will not be a rail car but a train made up of two electric motor cars flanking 8 cars, 3 of first class, 4 second class and a bar car. SNCF chooses Alstom for the construction of the first two trains. The motors must be able to operate with two different electrical supplies, 1.5 kV direct, classic of the old French lines, and 25 kV alternating.
A triple current version will also be developed to be able to connect other European cities that do not have French standards. This new TGV will also be placed on common bogies between the cars, like the TGV 001, its locomotives have bogies in conventional positions, each equipped with 4 electric motors, the end bogies of the passenger cars are motorized to improve adhesion of the train, for a total of 12 engines, 8 on the locomotives and 4 on the end cars. The plans are promising but there is no question of putting a train on the rails with so much technology that has not been tested, the SNCF therefore chooses to modify a damaged train (Z7100). It receives a new nose allowing it to carry out high-speed tests, but also innovative equipment to be tested for the TGV. Among its latest is a double-deck pantograph to capture the energy of the catenary even beyond 250 km / h, but also a new model of bogie without motor, its last being in the body of the train . It was therefore necessary to test a transmission shaft. A new braking system and better suspensions are also tested on occasion.
Its tests were a success, the train, nicknamed “Zébulon”, even reached a speed of 309 km/h. It remains to define the appearance of the train and for that the engineers will work with Jacque Cooper, who was already at the origin of the TGV 001. It is also necessary to find a name, it is decided that this first generation of TGV will bear the name of the new line it takes, it is therefore called TGV Sud-Est.
The first two pre-production trains were completed in 1978, numbered 01 and 02 and bearing the nicknames of Patrick and Sophie. For two years, they were tested in Alsace under high voltage, where they regularly reached 260 km/h, without major difficulty. They continue their tests between Orléan and Vierzon, this time if supplied with 1.5 kV direct. In parallel, the series production of the trains begins at Alstome, they are very similar to Patrick and Sophie, they however have a third headlight, different markings and other minor adjustments. The seating configuration is also established two rows of two seats in second class and in first class one row of one seat and one row of two seats.
The interior of the TGV Sud Est has a classy and futuristic look from the 80s, with a palette of warm colours, indirect lighting, state-of-the-art insulation, simple but comfortable seats. When they come into service, the Sud-Est trains will have 367 seats, with the exception of trains 33 to 38 which are fitted out in 100% 1st class, limiting the number of passengers to 287. Commercial service on classic lines begins in 1980 between paris and lyon, while the laying of the tracks of the South-East high-speed line, abbreviated as LGV Sud-Est, is nearing completion. This line is essential to allow the TGVs to maintain their cruising speed, indeed the old railway lines tend to be very winding to avoid as much as possible the unevenness, at the time of the steam locomotive the trains were in fact not very powerful and therefore cannot climb a large slope which is always the case with many trains, but to build a straight railway and without too much difference in height you have to build a lot of bridges and tunnels, and that costs a blind, you Surely imagine that the railway companies of the 19th century were not very motivated to pay four times more for journeys only slightly faster. But with the prospect of faster trains, like the capital or the TGV, the construction of a new straight line seems relevant. That's why the TGV comes with the famous LGVs, marvels of infrastructure as impressive as the machines criss-crossing them every day.
In Japan, for the construction of the Shinkansen Tokaido line, from Tokyo to Osaka, the country switched from metric gauge, which was the one used throughout the country, to standard gauge, which is wider and therefore more stable at high speed. In France, most of the main lines already use the standard gauge, the LGVs will therefore use the latter, allowing the TGVs to also use the traditional lines. The line must not only be straight and the curves gentle, the tracks are also separated from the rest of the rail network over most of its length but above all separated from road traffic, no level crossings for LGVs, cars will pass under or above the tracks.
Signaling is also a huge problem, how to transmit information to the driver if he is going at more than 260 km/h? The signs and semaphores are of no use. The solution has already been found in East Asia, signaling and information arrives in the driver's cabin via the tracks, the system developed for the TGV is called the TVM 270, for track-machine transmission. Unlike the old lines, the rails are laid in bars almost 300 meters long to reduce noise and vibrations. The rails are not laid on wooden beams but concrete and steel, 1.4 million of these beams will have been used for this project. There are 116 switches on the line,
most of which can be taken at 160 km/h, but the main branches use switches which can be taken at over 220 km/h. obviously the line will be 100% electrified by catenary at 25 kV. The construction of the LGV Sud-Est will have required the construction of 800 bridges, tunnels or other major construction.
The laying of the tracks was completed on November 20, 1980. The line was intensely tested, before on February 26, 1981, the TGV Sud-Est train n°16 set off at a speed of 380 km/h, once again establishing a world record . The LGV Sud-Est was finally inaugurated by former President François Mitterrand on November 27, 1981, but it was put into commercial service over its entire length only in September 1983. The line linking Paris to Lyon was the first line commercial railway to reach 270 km/h, a new record for the SNCF. The line is a huge success, it brings Lyon back just 2 hours by train against more than 5 hours by car, by plane the flight only lasted an hour but the boarding time and the distance between the airports and the city centers makes the TGV option very interesting for travellers. And that's not to mention the comfort and the quality
of service, which I think is better on the train. Between 1980 and 1985 alone, 45.6 million passengers were transported at 270 km/h in complete safety by the TGV, and the number of travelers is increasing ever faster. On August 31, 1992 the first accident occurred, when a TGV arrived at 270 km/h at Mâcon-Loché station, it derailed. Fortunately the incident would only result in minor injuries to passengers waiting on the platform, the latter having received ballast projected by the derailment.
But overall the TGV is extremely safe, the very rare derailments are caused by severe bad weather or problems on the track, generally on conventional tracks. The idea may seem strange today, but the LGV Sud Est was also used by freight trains and postal trains. In the 1980s, the post office transported a large majority of its mail by rail freight, so it ordered 3.5 TGV Sud-Est trainsets for express mail transport between the sorting center in the south and those in Paris.
You heard of course, 3.5 trains, in fact the postal TGVs, derived from the TGV Sud-Est, were cut in half for maximum availability, the post office had 7 half TGVs, and therefore twice as many trains. They were sometimes grouped together when necessary, but when they were divided a temporary bogie was installed on the last car. With the inauguration of the LGV Sud-Est and its immense success, the idea of a similar route to the west is affirmed as a real project. This line will be the LGV Atlantique, linking Brittany to Paris and Lyon, and this not at 270, but at 300 km/h. To reach this speed, Alstom begins
the development of the second generation of TGV, more advanced, fast, capable and comfortable. It's the Atlantic TGV. The trains go from 8 to 10 cars, which increases the number of passengers from 367 to 454. In the case of TGV Sud-Est, the two end cars had to house a motor bogie, part of the car not could therefore not accommodate passengers, but the engines of the TGV Atlantique will be much more powerful, it can therefore do without this development and the entire length of the cars is dedicated to passengers. The front of the train also has a more aerodynamic profile, allowing more energy savings, better acceleration and top speed. And of course, the white livery of the TGV Atlantique, the Argenté livery only arrived with the series trains, the pre-series trains n°301 and n°302 were white.
On February 15, 1985, after long negotiations on the exact route of the LGV, the first pickaxe was given. Two years later, on July 1, 87, the laying of the tracks began, so that in September 1989 the first branch of the new line was put into service. This is the first time that passengers have discovered the TGV Atlantique, and the reception is more than positive, the train is comfortable, fast, beautiful but expensive. Admittedly, the ticket is made more affordable outside peak hours, but speed is expensive, expensive in maintenance, expensive in development and expensive in staff. Especially since the TGVs are little subsidized
apart from the construction of the LGVs, when the LGV Atlantique opened, the ticket was twice as expensive as this conventional speed train. But it remains a price that many are willing to pay, a faster and still very comfortable journey without having to wait at the airport or take the car is enough to convince families or professionals. And once again France has the fastest commercial train in the world, at 300 km/h. As for the TGV Sud-Est, the SNCF intends to obliterate the speed records, train number 325 is shortened to 5 trailers instead of 10 and enters an intensive test period for the LGV Atlantique, the criss-crossing faster every day. The goal is simple, reach 140 m/s, more than 500 km/h. On May 18, 1990, train 325 broke the world rail speed record held until then by its big sister Sud Est n°16, train 325 reached a speed of 515.3 km/h.
A total of 105 complete Atlantique trains have been built, with the 101 TGV Sud-Est built so far. The SNCF has a fleet just sufficient for its existing lines, but its latest ones are gradually reaching saturation. Every year the traffic on the LGV increases, maintenance is improved, the signaling upgraded to allow more and more trains to pass, but the SNCF needs more new trains. The new TGV Réseaux ordered in 1990 are capable of 320 km/h on the new North European LGV and can travel on the other LGVs even cost 8 cars. A terrible mistake, their capacities becoming much too weak with the opening of the LGV Méditerranée. The SNCF needs a new TGV capable of going at 320 km/h and carrying more passengers. The logical solution would be to add more
cars, but unfortunately this is not possible, the TGV generally operates couplet so that two trains form only one train, but the station platforms are not long enough to accommodate more two 10-car trainsets, and changing the platforms is out of the question. The solution found on the previous TGVs was to put more seats per car by reducing the space between the seats, but travelers are already complaining about the low comfort of the TGVs compared to the Coral and the German ICE, further reducing the space and the quality of the seats would be to be avoided. From 1987 the SNCF already suspected that this would quickly become a real problem, the solution found was not to double the TGV not in length but in height. The number of places is not quite doubled, since it is now necessary to dedicate a space for stairs. Alstom began experimenting with the concept in 1992 with a prototype twin-deck trailer towed by a Motrice Atlantique and a Motrice Réseau.
The SNCF is convinced by the concept and orders trains of this type. Like the TGV Réseau, this train will be able to criss-cross the entire French network, but key differences are still to be noted: First of all there are obviously the trailers which are very different from past trailers, they are on two levels and can therefore transport a hundred more passengers than the Network trains. Inter-circulation is via the upper deck , this is not possible on the lower deck because of the bogie between the two cars. The advantage being that the lower deck is quieter than the
upper one. The transformer of the duplex engines is identical to that of the TGV networks, allowing the new TGV to operate coupled to TGV networks or with a network engine. However, the fact has changed, the new trains are abandoning the angular nose of the 80s inspired by the automobile, now the TGV looks much more like an airplane than a car. Question of time, with the arrival of the TGV the USA tried to impose their dependent model on the car by claiming that the automobile was the future and that it was freedom and speed, freedom provided that the car replaces all other modes of transportation, trapping people in dependence on cars, fossil fuels and the auto industry. The Shinkansen and the TGV have misled this ideology that the United States is beginning to regret. But in the 90s to 2000, low-cost aviation competed with the TGV.
This duality is found in the appearance of the train but also in the terminology used which is a hybrid between that of aviation and railway terminology, we are talking about bridges and not levels, it is not a two-level TGV but a TGV Duplex and that's who will give it its name. The driver's desk is now in the center of the cabin to be able to travel on other European lines and comply with future European standards. The first trains entered service in 1996, the train quickly became iconic with its two bridges, its aerodynamic curves and its blue livery. Three- and four-current duplex TGVs are also built to be able to operate in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The existing network motor cars are gradually abandoning their old trailers to adopt new duplex trailers, some network trailers are then used on the TGV POS, which connects Paris to the south of Germany, 38 motor cars were built to tow the 19 network trailers keep. After the great success of the first generation of TGV Duplex, comes the TGV Dasye, which has similar TGV duplex trailers but with new induction motors and is compatible with the European signaling system, ERTMS. For the opening of the new East European LGV, SNCF intends to once again beat the world rail speed record, its own record. After TGV 100, for 100 meters per second which had resulted in the speed record for train no. 16 and the TGV 140 project which resulted in the record for the TGV Atlantique, the V150 project is launched to reach 150 meters per second, i.e. 540 km/h. To exceed the previous TGV record, a train and an exceptional line will be necessary: The trainset used will consist of two TGV POS motor cars, the most powerful TGV motor cars, powered by 25 kV, their combined power is 9280W, and that that's not counting the two motorized bogies that were added to the duplex trailer. The trailer is the only element of the train
built for the occasion, the central car with 4 motorized axles from the AGV, in total the train has a power of 19.6 MW, more than 25,000 horsepower. The track of the East European LGV also had to be modified, the electrical tension of the catenary was increased to 31kV instead of 25, the mechanical tension on the latter was doubled and the cant in the curves was increased so that the train does not derail due to the centrifugal effect. On April 3, 2007 at 1:13 p.m., the V150 train reached its maximum speed, 574.8 km/h, or 159.6 m/s, much more than the 150 m/s initially targeted. A new record that places Alstom
and the SNCF as the world leader in high-speed rail. We can identify 3 generations of TGV, the TGV Sud Est, the TGV Atlantique and networks which are generally very similar and the 3 generations of TGV at two levels, Duplex, Dasye and TGV 2N2 of the avelia family from Alstome. There is also the fourth generation which was to represent the AGV, which was to be the first high-speed railcar to join SNCF's TGVs. Unfortunately the SNCF does not order any trains, the AGV certainly has better acceleration and is flexible but it is not two-tiered, so it can transport fewer passengers per train.
Like previous generations, he was able to find an export customer. The next TGV to enter service should be the TGV M, normally in 2024, it will be modular, more energy efficient, accessible to PRMs and in its most optimized configuration they should be able to transport up to 740 passengers. The TGV is undeniably a huge French success, both technologically and economically, even for export, Alstom and SNCF technologies are incredibly successful, with French-designed TGVs in Spain, Morocco, South Korea south, in Poland and even the only train approached a TGV in the United States, the Acela express, is of mainly French design. The future Avelia Liberty was developed by Alstom, and should be the first “real” American TGV.
The TGV is 3 generations of innovation, records, cooperation and history engraved in everyone's memory, some of the most beautiful and fastest trains, before a new one pushes the limits of our ever-higher technology.