The Future of High Speed Rail Transportation: Automotrice Grande Vitesse (AGV)

Heralding the future of high-speed railway transportation, Alstom comes up with yet another massive breakthrough, after their PENDOLINO range of high speed trains, that are for operations at 200 to 270 km per hour on existing lines. Most of their PENDOLINO trains are equipped with a tilting mechanism that allows them to tilt in curves without slowing, and thus optimizing their running times without any need to upgrade existing infrastructure. This mechanism is based on their patented Alstom’s TILTRONIX technology.

With a growth rate of 3.6% per year for the next ten years, the very high speed market, currently worth an annual 2 billion euros, looks set to be one of the most promising sectors in the railway market.

In order to guarantee an economical solution, capable of ensuring the levels of performance, comfort and security already attained on high capacity trains, Alstom has chosen an entirely articulated and modular electrical multiple unit. This concept makes it prossible to propose a whole range of trains, developed on the basis of modules of several types of trailers whose motive power is not concentrated but spread all along the train. This architecture increases trains’ transport capacity and enables a global diminution of operating and maintenance costs.

The AGV™ is the first very high-speed train project to be developed following the publication of the European TSI (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) standards. The AGV™, capable of operating on all the networks in Western Europe from the outset, is also the product of the experience acquired by Alstom in the domain of high-speed trains outside Europe.

In June 2002, on-line trials of a demonstrator at 320kph made it possible to approve the guiding principles of the AGV™ project, whose design has been entirely developed by Alstom teams. The results obtained make it possible to envisage a further increase in the speed of trains on the European network, aiming at 350 kph while continuing to satisfy economic criteria.

About 100 engineers and technicians from Alstom have devoted themselves to the development of this business project, with contributions from a total of nearly 500 members of staff. The first certification tests have been run at the beginning of 2008. Alongside the La Rochelle integration site, centre of excellence for high-speed trains, three of the company’s factories are already preparing to build the AGV™: the Le Creusot factory for the bogies, the Ornans factory for the engines and the factory in Tarbes for the traction system.

The Challenge
Air transport currently presents travellers with numerous problems, from extended check-in times to overcrowded airports. The challenge for very high speed rail travel is to offer a commercial service speed of 360 km/h, passing the threshold of 1,000 km in three hours to further increase the appeal of train travel over other modes of transport.

Pressure on energy costs have also led rail operators to demand exceptional cost performance. The ratio between train capacity and energy consumption has, as a result, become a decisive market factor.

Alstom has developed a new generation of very high speed trains, AGV (Automotrice Grande Vitesse), to meet these new requirements.
The concept
Designed to travel at 360 km/h, the AGV is the first train in the world to combine articulated architecture with distributed power. The principle of the articulated train set is based on a design that places bogies between the cars. This technique, which has ensured Alstom’s success for 25 years, eliminates much of the vibration and rolling noise on board, cushions movement between cars, optimizes aerodynamic performance, guarantees maximum security, and reduces maintenance costs by 30%. The distributed power principle spread along the train increases on-board capacity by 20%.

The combination of articulated architecture, composite materials, and improved traction systems have made it possible to reduce the mass of the AGV by 70 tonnes compared to competitors’ trains. The AGV is therefore particularly efficient from an environmental point of view, consuming 15% less energy.

Distributed power also offers the advantage of modularity in relation to car numbers. Based on an AGV range comprising between 7 and 14 cars, each operator can built up a fleet to match their capacity requirements.

Key figures
Modular design: 7 to 14 cars (130 to 250 m)
Seats: 250 to 650
Mass: 270 to 510 tonnes
Power: 6,000 to 12,000 kW (22 kW/t)
Traction equipment : Quadri-voltage 25 kV 50 Hz / 15 kV 16.7 Hz / 3 kVdc / 1.5 kVdc, water-cooled IGBT traction converters, permanent magnet motors

For the reference:
Alstom occupies first place among manufacturers and has built 70% of the trains in service in the world which travel at more than 300 km/h. The company’s very high speed activity is constantly growing. It will account for 6% of sales during 2006-2007 and is expected to reach 10% in 2010, thanks to Alstom’s unrivalled experience and technological lead.
Courtesy: Alstorm Transport

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