SNCF+Alstom enter 5th dimension

Paris, September 7: French Railways (SNCF) and Alstom have joined forces to develop and build a 5th generation TGV high-speed (HS) train.

As its current HS fleet approaches the end of the line, SNCF is seeking a successor that delivers more in terms of passenger experience* and cost efficiency.

“From the first train over 30 years ago to the 4+ generation [to be revealed this September 14], each version of the TGV has taken a step ahead in terms of comfort and technology,” says Rachel Picard, managing director, Voyages TGV.

“The passenger is at the heart of this project,” says Alstom. “Our challenge is to ensure these trains operate at full passenger capacity so that SNCF will then order more.”

The new creation should be up and running from 2022. Right now the two partners are in phase one – ‘the process of co-specification’ –  scheduled for May 2016 to end-2017. This will be followed by  detailed design, industrialisation and approval, for a duration of around four years, before the final furlong of production, delivery, and entry into commercial service.

Figures provided today include: ‘20% less acquisition and operating costs’ and ‘25% less energy consumption.” Compared to what, asked one journalist. The answer was unclear.  More so is the desire to design a resolutely modular interior to accommodate variations in passenger needs and expectations – both today, and tomorrow. Because if all goes well, TGV5  should stay on track up to at least 2050.

We are fully aware of the importance of anticipating the future as far as is possible ,” says Ms Picard.

This ‘beyond the here and now’ thinking  is why ‘very frequent’ (over 100,000km) SNCF passengers will be actively involved in the development and test stages over the years, together with start-ups, engineering/high-tech schools, and industry at large.

One thing is for sure, unlike Alstom’s HS order for Amtrak, which must be 90% manufactured on American soil,  TGV.5 will have ‘made in France’ stamped all over. Indeed, some 4,000 French rail industry jobs are riding on it.

Setting the scene for this innovation partnership, SNCF-Alstom is working out of a cool coworking space (with a view to cry for) in the Montparnasse district of Paris. A departure from most offices as we know them, but certainly the way they should be going.

Is this the way TGV5 is going? Will this uplifting work environment contribute towards a ‘unique, high-quality travelling experience while meeting the new economic and environmental challenges of high-speed travel’?

> fast forward 2022.

TGV of the Future is the name given by the French State to a programme within its New Industrial France policy, which seeks to develop the core technologies of a ‘standard’ very high-speed train,destined for both the French and international markets. As the industrial in charge of this programme, Alstom is developing the core technologies through the joint venture (JV)SpeedInnov, created with French environment & energy management agency ADEME.

*see also ‘Sitting pretty’




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