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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 :p) 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!
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A few more news about TGV est européen:

Direct TGV Connections for 37 Million Europeans

Serving around forty destinations, from Strasbourg to Bordeaux, Rennes or Lille; from Paris to Luxembourg, Metz, Nancy, Frankfurt or Zurich, in 2007 the TGV EST EUROPEEN will offer a new proximity to 37 million French and European customers.

Paris and some twenty cities of Eastern France will be directly connected via TGV and on most of the destinations the customers will enjoy a journey shorter by at least a third of the actual duration.

Paris will only be 2h20 away from Strasbourg, 1h30 away from Nancy or Metz, 45 minutes away from Reims. And with the good network of regional and local transport (TER, Bus, Tramway), inhabitants of these regions will benefit from the arrival of the TGV.

TGV EST EUROPEEN will also connect Paris directly with about 10 destinations in Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

Besides the connections between Paris and Eastern France, TGV EST EUROPEEN will offer new opportunities of travel with direct TGV connections via Strasbourg and 3 new Stations between Eastern France on one hand and Ile-de-France, Northern, Western and South-Western France on the other hand.

3 New Stations will be built on the outskirts of 3 cities. Champagne-Ardennes TGV station will be situated 5 km from Reims, Lorraine TGV station between Metz and Nancy and Meuse TGV station about thirty km from Verdun and Bar-le-Duc. These modern and comfortable New Stations will be easily accessible by individual and public transport.

The new TGV Est Network : Paris- Strasbourg

Breaking news!!

Paris - France's high-speed TGV train - already the fastest in the world - is to try to break its own record by hitting speeds above 540km per hour, its constructors said on Monday.

One of the prides of French engineering, the superfast train a grande vitesse (TGV) set the current world rail record of 515.3km per hour, in test conditions, in 1990.

The new speed trial will be carried out in early April on the brand new TGV line connecting Paris to the eastern city of Strasbourg, which is set to open in June 2007.

According to the French engineering giant Alstom, which builds the TGV, the train is hoped to hit speeds of 550-570km per hour.

Currently, average travelling speeds for the TGV are around 300km per hour, but trains on the latest-generation Paris-Strasbourg line are to run slightly faster at 320km per hour.

The tests will nonetheless take rail travel almost up to commercial aircraft speeds. In the medium term, SNCF hopes to upgrade all its high-speed lines to 320kph, possibly 360kph (224mph), for ordinary service trains.

The record attempt will also make a strong statement that France is ready to take on competition from Japan and Germany in the multibillion-pound market for high-speed trains.
Yes the Strasbourg route is planned for 320kph (so is the a part of the line between lyon and marseille since 2001).

Tests have been succesfully made a few months ago to upgrade the speed at 360kph on all the high speed lines in few years (instead of 300 and 320kph). We already know that all the future lines after the new eastern one will be build for 360kph.
Japan railways also plan to upgrade their speed up to 360kph in a few years. Spain will open quickly a new line madrid-Barcelona with a section at 350kph.

No i wouldn't say that France is on the top. I think german ICE, japanese Shinkansen and French TGV are all fantastic trains, all have their avantages. ICE for its luxury 1st class and comfort, TGV and Shinkansen for their fiability (no fatalities on high speed lines since their launch). Shinkansen wins for its punctuality, TGV for its low prices (actually u can run from Paris to Marseille -800km- in 3 hours for 19€!)
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