FRENCH National Railways (SNCF) and Alstom have unveiled the “TGV of the future” after the power cars and passenger coaches of the new double-deck high-speed train were coupled together for the first time at Alstom’s La Rochelle plant on September 9.

The ceremony was attended by SNCF Voyageurs chairman and CEO, Mr Christophe Fanichet, TGV-Intercity director, Mr Alain Krakovitch, SNCF Voyageurs industrial director, Mr Xavier Ouin, and Alstom France president, Mr Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud.

SNCF awarded Alstom a contract worth €2.7bn to supply 100 dual-voltage domestic high-speed trains in July 2018 and exercised a €590m option for another 15 four-voltage trains for international services in August 2022. The first Avelia Horizon trains, which SNCF will call TGV M, are expected to enter service from 2024. The fleet new fleet will operate inOui and Ouigo high-speed services.

Alstom says the trains feature “unprecedented modularity,” which makes it possible to adjust the train’s configuration from seven to eight or nine cars depending on demand. The first-class area can also be quickly reconfigured to second class and vice versa by adding or removing seats or luggage and bicycle spaces. Each train can be fitted with up to 740 seats, a 20% increase on a comparable Avelia Euroduplex, the most recent TGV model, as well as Wi-Fi and a real time passenger information system.

The manufacturer says the TGV M’s carbon footprint is the “lowest on the market” with a 32% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with existing trains, and 97% of the train’s components are recyclable. The train is equipped with sensors to continuously transmit thousands of pieces of data, enabling the train to be examined in real time to optimise maintenance and availability.

As the technical specifications of the TGV M differ from existing TGV fleet, including the train’s additional cars and the increased digitisation of the driver’s cab, SNCF Voyageurs has updated its TGV operating procedures, including those related to driving, traffic supervision, train preparation in stations, stabling, depots and train cleaning.

SNCF has made major investment in its TGV maintenance workshops to make their facilities compatible with the TGV M and to install automated maintenance benches that can check several hundred components in a few seconds. Alstom says the upgraded workshops will use predictive maintenance to provide clear, reliable and high value-added information, making it possible to anticipate breakdowns in all of the train’s systems including doors and air conditioning.

A detailed analysis of the compatibility of the TGV M with the network and stations is being carried out across France. This will identify any required modification work, adaptations to procedures, and any changes that need to be made in terms of passenger flow management. Surveys completed at nearly 70 stations found that stop boards needed to be moved to make it easier for drivers to see the signals when the trains are standing at the platform, as the nose of the new TGV has been lengthened to make it more aerodynamic.

A project is also underway to upgrade SNCF’s digital and information systems to meet customers’ increasing digital needs. Onboard staff will have an application that tells them in real time the operating status of all the systems that contribute to passenger comfort.

The onboard Wi-Fi system will comply with the latest 5G standards and digital applications will be developed, in particular to optimise traction energy consumption by adapting driving instructions in real time to the speed of the train and the route profile.

Onboard innovations include social areas for passengers to sit with friends and family, and the interior is designed to provide a restful travelling environment. The windows have been enlarged to provide a panoramic view and the lighting will adapt to the intensity of the natural light in the train. All seats are designed for optimal comfort and the bar has been redesigned.

TGV M has also been designed in close collaboration with associations representing persons with reduced mobility and will offer fully independent access with a pivoting lifting platform to allow wheelchair users to access the train and an audio system to enable visually impaired passengers to locate the doors and to offer guidance during boarding.

Drivers were for the first time involved in the design of the driver’s cab, with 100 drivers offered a virtual tour of the cab to test three designs. Indirect lighting has been introduced and controls have been positioned to make them easier to reach.

The TGV M aims to reduce maintenance costs by around 30% and was designed with the early involvement of TGV maintenance staff in order to take advantage of their day-to-day expertise.

The train will undergo dynamic testing at up to 200km/h at the Velim test centre in the Czech Republic by the end of 2022. Seat comfort will be tested by a representative sample of people to gather feedback and make adjustments if necessary.

10 of Alstom’s 16 sites in France are involved in the production of the new train: Belfort for the power cars, La Rochelle for the coaches (studies, procurement, manufacturing and testing), logistical and service support, and project management; Villeurbanne for the computerised control and command system, passenger information and onboard equipment; Ornans for the traction motors; Le Creusot for the bogies; Tarbes for traction equipment; Toulouse (COE electrical) for other electrical components; Petit Quevilly for the transformers; Saint-Ouen for design and onboard signalling equipment; and Valenciennes for e interior design.

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