TGV unveils the high-speed trains of the future

Francesca Street, CNN

Welcome to the future of high-speed rail transport in Europe.

French rail company SNCF and rail builder Alstom have unveiled the first completed TGV M, a next-generation high-speed double-deck train with a longer, more aerodynamic nose, perfect for traversing the French countryside.

Alstom dubbed the new train “the TGV of the future”. TGV stands for Train à Grande Vitesse, i.e. high-speed train.

This chic new design will premiere on the Paris rail network in 2024 and across the country for the next 10 years.

Bigger and better

TGV is one of the most famous high-speed train brands in the world and has been a staple of European rail transport since the early 1980s.

In 2018, SNCF, the French national railway company that controls TGV, ordered 100 TGV M trains (also known as Avelia Horizon trains) at a cost of 2.7 billion euros (about $2.7 billion). ). 15 additional trains were ordered in August 2022.

The majority of the trains will run in France, but Alstom said 15 will use the tracks internationally.

TGV M will operate at the same top speed as the previous generation of TGV trains – 350 kilometers per hour (nearly 220 mph).

“In 2022, we don’t want to go faster,” Alstom spokesman Philippe Molitor told CNN Travel, explaining that the goal is instead high-speed trains that accommodate more people while consuming more people. less energy.

The TGV M trains not only have a 40.5 centimeters (15.9 in) longer nose than their predecessors, they are bigger all around. The interior of the more spacious cars can accommodate up to 740 seats, compared to 634 currently.

TGV Ms has also achieved what manufacturer Alstom calls “unprecedented modularity”, which means that the interior configuration of the train can be easily adjusted. A car can be converted from second class to first class and back, or adapted to make room for oversized luggage or bicycles. There will also be dedicated passenger social areas on board to provide variation and flexibility on longer journeys.

According to Alstom, the design improves TGV’s current energy efficiency and carbon footprint, with 97% of the train’s components now recyclable.

It also benefits from improved accessibility – there will be a platform lift to allow wheelchair users to board the train independently, and an onboard public address system to assist visually impaired travellers.

Larger bay windows will make it possible to make the most of the views while the lighting of the TGV will adapt according to the natural light outside.

In a press release, Alstom describes a “train whose sensors continuously transmit thousands of data allowing the train to be examined in real time from all angles to optimize maintenance and availability”.

From concept to reality

The futuristic elements of the TGV M will require infrastructure changes on the French rail network – for example, some station stop signs will have to be moved so that they are not obscured by the longer nose of the new train.

Train drivers were actively involved in the design process, especially the interior of the driver’s cabin, explains Alstom.

“With virtual reality glasses, around 100 drivers were able to take a virtual tour of the cabin, with a choice of three space designs,” explains the company.

With the unveiling of the first completed train, the next step is what Alstom describes as “a long period of testing” – the first phase of testing will begin in the Czech Republic at the end of 2022.

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Top photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images

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