Alstom Aims for Rail-Speed Record With Upgraded TGV
Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) --
Alstom SA's TGV train will attempt to set a new rail-speed record of 550 kilometers an hour (342 mph) in coming months using upgraded technology and a faster, straighter line in eastern France.
Alstom and state rail operator Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer, or SNCF, will seek to extend the TGV's existing record of 515.3 kph on a newly built stretch of track, Philippe Mellier, head of Alstom's transport unit, said in an interview.
``All the elements are in place and we're ready for the challenge,'' Mellier said. ``The line is ready and we have the technology.'' The bid, to be made in February or March, will be announced Monday by French Transport Minister Dominique Perben.
Alstom, the world's second-biggest train maker, has been building the TGV, or Train a Grande Vitesse, for 25 years and set the existing record in 1990. Merrier said that the upgraded train may even reach 570 kph with the help of technology developed for the company's new AGV regional train fleet.
Alstom, which also builds power stations, recorded its first annual profit since 2001 in the 12 months through March after railway operators and utilities placed orders to refurbish older equipment and install new gear.
Next year's record attempt will feature a five-carriage TGV set assembled at Alstom's plant in La Rochelle. The train will draw on 24,000 horsepower from two motorized cars and run on track built by rail-network owner Reseau Ferre de France.
The company has about 450 TGV trains in service in France and overseas markets including Spain and South Korea. The train also runs on the Thalys network operating between France and Belgium, Holland and Germany and is used in modified form for the Eurostar between London, Paris and Brussels.
Shares of Alstom rose 1.8 percent to 98.65 euros today. The stock has surged 103 percent this year, giving a market value of 13.6 billion euros ($18 billion).
Some people speak of 550kph, some other hope 600kph. But rail fans in France (just like me
) all hope that the targeted speed is 600kph. Alstom and SNCF said that 550kph will be enough but we all think that will try to make better just like in 1990!