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Old September 6th, 2008, 12:30 PM   #361
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AGV: Testing times ahead


02 Sep 2008 | Chris Jackson

Alstom's AGV demonstrator faces a lengthy programme of testing and approvals before the first trains enter revenue service in 2011. Technical Director François Lacôte talks to Chris Jackson in Velim.

With construction of the first production trainsets for Italian open-access operator NTV scheduled to get underway before the end of this year, Alstom Transport is pushing ahead with an extensive commissioning and testing programme to get its AGV demonstrator Pégase approved for operation throughout western Europe.

Rolled out at La Rochelle earlier this year (RG 3.08 p146), the seven-car trainset is now racking up the miles around the test ring at Velim in the Czech Republic. Alstom has booked the 13 km main loop exclusively for four months between May and September in order to put the demonstrator through its paces. The train is expected to run almost 60 000 km while it is at Velim.

According to Alstom’s Technical Director François Lacôte, achieving full certification with the European TSIs and approval to operate in different countries is likely to take more than two years. He is not expecting to get final sign-off until the end of 2010, 'if all goes well’.

Nevertheless, during a visit to Velim on June 25 Lacôte said he was pleased with the early results. Based on his experience with TGV development over the past 30 years, he explained that 'despite all the design and simulation that goes on before the actual construction starts, there are still a lot of uncertainties when a new train runs for the first time’. But Pégase was performing as expected — 'our first impressions are good’, he confirmed.
Programme ramps up

The test programme began with a series of static and low-speed trials at La Rochelle before the AGV was dispatched to Velim in mid-May. This included basic mechanical and electrical checks under both 25 kV 50 Hz and 3 kV DC, to ensure that the demonstrator was fit to travel.

Lacôte says one of the main benefits of using Velim is that Alstom does not have to worry about securing paths on an increasingly busy operational network. As the test centre is physically and electrically isolated, the builder is free to test the train’s electro-magnetic compatibility without the risk of any interference from elsewhere.

During the trials the train is being driven by local staff from CD subsidiary VUZ, which operates the Velim test centre. But Alstom has sent its own team of 15 engineers to the Czech Republic to run the tests and analyse the results. Two of the seven vehicles have been fitted out as mobile workstations, backed up by a generator car, another acting as a spare parts store and a fifth providing staff accommodation. Two cars have been fitted with first and second class seating for use by visitors and guests.

For the trials, Pégase has been equipped with more than 2 000 sensors.The first part of the programme is focusing on the AGV’s wheel-rail ?dynamics and the pantograph-catenary interface. Lacôte believes that 'the key to high speed running is to get a bogie that is stable at very high speeds’. He says 'AGV is designed for perfect performance at 360 km/h’, adding that 'this bogie has a safe speed far above that required for commercial service — probably higher than 600 km/h’. He points out that the AGV’s bogies and permanent-magnet motors were comprehensively validated with a series of runs at speeds well over 500 km/h during the V150 high speed test programme last year.

Other tests will check the traction and braking systems, including the wheelslip protection and regenerative braking, and the performance of the traction package on all four supply voltages. An array of lineside microphones will enable Alstom to monitor acoustic performance, and wind tunnel simulations of the aerodynamic drag will also be verified.

Pégase is being run around the ring at steadily increasing speeds, having reached 150 km/h by the end of June. Although the main ring is officially limited to 210 km/h and the test programme only goes up to 200 km/h, Lacôte hopes to be allowed to run ?Pégase up to 240 km/h before the ?trials at Velim conclude.
Germany, France and Italy

Following the four-month programme, Pégase is due to visit Berlin for the InnoTrans trade fair in September. After that it will return to La Rochelle for any rectification or modifications needed as a result of the Velim testing. Towards the end of this year the train is expected to start high-speed testing on LGV Est.

Lacôte says at this stage the train will only run at night, because the lack of certification means that it cannot operate with regular traffic. Nevertheless, he expects to be able to work the demonstrator up to its design speed of 360 km/h during this stage of the testing. Subject to the certification bodies accepting the initial test results, Alstom then expects Pégase to go to Italy for three months of trials starting in March 2009.

With the first of the NTV trains due for delivery in mid-2010, Lacôte expects construction to start towards the end of this year, beginning with long-lead components such as the traction equipment, bogies and bodyshells. Current plans call for 14 of the 11-car sets to be assembled at La Rochelle and the remainder at Savigliano in Italy. Lacôte says this is not to do with having local content, but simply to ensure that all 25 trains can be completed in a relatively tight timescale.

Although the intention is to make AGV a fully interoperable train, able to compete in the liberalised European international passenger market after 2010, Lacôte will not be drawn about other potential customers. At the time of the launch in La Rochelle, Air France CEO Jean-Cyril Spinetta was reported to have expressed interest in the AGV, and the airline recently confirmed that it was in discussions with Veolia Transport about a joint venture to run high speed trains (p489).
Double-deck ambitions

SNCF will be looking to replace its first-generation TGVs in the next decade, but President Guillaume Pepy has insisted growing demand means that future high speed trains are likely to be double-deckers. Alstom is currently delivering the first of 80 second-generation TGV Duplex sets, officially designated RGV-2N2 by SNCF, under a contract which includes an option for a further 40 sets.

Pepy has reportedly expressed interest in a double-deck version of AGV, which Lacôte says would be 'a huge challenge’. Earlier this year he insisted that Alstom would continue to offer two separate high speed train platforms, but now he concedes that 'SNCF is a very important customer — if Guillaume Pepy wants a double-deck AGV we will start working on it’.

He is under no illusions about the difficulties. 'With the TGV Duplex it took a lot of effort to meet the axle-load limits’, even with the aluminium bodyshells. He explains that AGV already has aluminium bodies, but in this case a major contributor to the axleload is the distributed electrical equipment along the articulated trainset. Combining a double-deck body with distributed power 'would be a long haul’, he concludes, adding that in design terms 'we would have to start again’. And although that might be a long term goal, 'our first task is to make this train reliable’.
'If Guillaume Pepy wants a double-deck AGV, we will start working on it’


François Lacôte, Technical Director, Alstom Transport
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Old September 8th, 2008, 01:39 AM   #362
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But still, I much prefer the design of ICE3 as an aesthetic item. As a passenger, I would like to get places fast, cheaply and with my ear drums intact

Truth be told, I do really love the Taiwan High Speed Trainset. That doesn't really appear to have quite as ugly a front end as many of the Japanese trainsets do.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 05:45 AM   #363
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirtaheri View Post
Truth be told, I do really love the Taiwan High Speed Trainset. That doesn't really appear to have quite as ugly a front end as many of the Japanese trainsets do.
Taiwan High Speed Trainsets are the 700 shinkansen series made in Japan.
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Old September 8th, 2008, 11:26 AM   #364
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Yes, but their nose is shorter and different to that of the 700 series.
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Old September 9th, 2008, 09:46 PM   #365
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I can readily cast its looks aside when reminding myself of the unit harbouring no dedicated locomotive.....mind-blowing enough, that reality of it is to me!
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Old September 12th, 2008, 02:06 PM   #366
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may be fast and efficient, but its still really ugly. Latest TGV generations look a lot better, not even mentioning others like the Velaro (ICE3).
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Old September 13th, 2008, 12:07 PM   #367
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It's a matter of taste, I suppose. I love the design of AGV
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Old September 14th, 2008, 09:18 AM   #368
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I think it looks much better in different liveries. The prototype was ugly and seemed the enhance the lesser aspects of the design.
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Old September 18th, 2008, 10:20 AM   #369
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Old September 25th, 2008, 10:13 PM   #370
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Innotrans 2008 Berlin
Here are some pictures taken by ionutzyankoo at Innotrans in Berlin.



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Old October 4th, 2008, 06:53 PM   #371
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AGV Dynamic Tests

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Old October 6th, 2008, 10:51 AM   #372
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wow, the design is striking cool
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Old October 21st, 2008, 08:34 AM   #373
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Old October 28th, 2008, 11:05 PM   #374
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chafford1 View Post
I've read the Japanese will be running the Fastech 360s at 320 km/h (199mph) in commercial service.

French Railways are looking at 360 km/h (225mph) but have stated that they're not sure whether customers will pay a premium to run trains at this speed.
In addition to the geographical constraints, Japan has to deal with a few more constraints which reduce the top operating speed of their trainsets.
  • Geological constraints: 80% of Japan is mountains. This means there are more tunnels. More tunnels make more tunnel booms... which leads to another constraint:
  • Strict Noise Pollution laws: Japan has the strictest noise pollution laws in the world. This is why their trains are designed to run so quietly and also why tunnel boom is an issue.
  • Distance between stations: This was mentioned earlier on page 7, but apart from the Nozomi run, which makes only one stop between Tokyo and Osaka, distance between stations is 100km - 200km. France has several runs that 200-300km apart which enable the slow-to-accelerate TGVs to get to their top speed. Distance between stations is also why Japanese trainsets focus on acceleration and have the best in the world (I believe).
  • Safety: As you may know, Japan has Earthquakes. LOTS OF THEM. I believe they have also never had a fatality due to earthquakes on a high speed line. Shinkansen need to be able to stop... and they need to stop QUICKLY. This is part of the reason Taiwan went with Japanese technology. There was a massive earthquake in Taiwan and they switched from German tech to Japanese tech which is probably a good idea, given the experience in a similar landscape. Remember that Taiwan was a ruled from Japan for years (as Formosa) and there are still some hard feelings (though NO one there wants to join China) so they must have had a compelling reason to choose the Japanese technology. (Taiwan is the first country to adopt Shinkansen tech, though because they wanted some concessions such as running two ways on a single track, Japan tends to downplay calling Taiwan "Shinkansen")
  • Cost: Simply put it costs more money to run a train at that speed. It's not only the added energy cost, but also the added wear and tear on the overhead caternary wires.

You will note that some of these issues are taken care of in the new Mag-lev endeavor in Japan. It goes through a more sparsely populated area over straighter tracks with fewer tunnels than Tokaido. In addition, wear and tear is far less of an issue with Mag-lev.

edit: You probably wouldn't be surprised to know that the AGV is the first French Trainset that I think actually looks good. I really don't know how people liked the boxy TGV. But perhaps it's because I'm also a fan of "most" of the Japanese trainsets, especially the "bullet" version of the FasTech 360Z and the Taiwan 700T series. Love those trains. People tend to call some designs weird or "space-ship like" but that's exactly what I like about them Trains are not means to look like cars. Also, this is a side-point, but it seems that almost all the photos of Japanese trainsets look clean. I wonder if they do more regular washing. I can't remember seeing a dirty Shinkansen. I know it doesn't affect the speed, but it's an interesting cultural aside, anyhow. I know the Japanese are very conscious of image and presentation. Perhaps that has something to do with it?

Note: I'm British, for the record.

Last edited by bluemeansgo; October 28th, 2008 at 11:24 PM. Reason: so as not to double-post
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Old October 30th, 2008, 12:54 AM   #375
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wow, it is a giant train.
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Old October 30th, 2008, 07:04 PM   #376
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Old November 4th, 2008, 04:59 PM   #377
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amazing train...

do the high speed trains and regular trains use the same lines or different lines in France?
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Old November 4th, 2008, 10:01 PM   #378
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The same...with different speeds
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Old November 4th, 2008, 10:31 PM   #379
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They use dedicated high speed lines (LGV in french) : A train cannot run at 300 km/h on a normal line.
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Last edited by Alvar Lavague; November 4th, 2008 at 10:36 PM.
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Old November 4th, 2008, 11:18 PM   #380
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Quote:
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The same...with different speeds

doesn't it harm the rails?

Homen you also follow Turkish railway development, you know our new HSR lines, do you think regular trains (espacially in Thrace to Bulgaria and Greece) will use this line too?
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