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[IMAGE]MET9alstomagv-.jpg[/IMAGE] With air travel becoming increasingly more expensive and
inconvenient, other transportation options are becoming more attractive. This
has presented an opportunity for the rail industry to capitalize on. Alstom
Transport has answered this call with its newest high-speed train offering —
the AGV (Automotrice àGrande Vitesse). Touted as “the fastest train in the
world,” according to Francois Lacôte, Alstom’s technical VP — the vehicle
reaches speeds up to 225 mph. The AGV is the fourth generation of very
high-speed train designed and delivered by the company.
With this new generation of high-speed trains, the idea is
to capture market share of the airlines, the mode’s competitor, according to
Eric Marie, VP, high speed for Alstom. “A trip from Paris
to Toulouse would take two hours and 30 minutes compared to five,” he says. “We want to
help customers capture that market.”
The AGV train is specially designed to reach its maximum
speed, by incorporating cutting-edge technologies and design to optimize its
drag coefficient. “One of the main challenges that needed to be met was to
clearly define the visual language of high speed,” says Xavier Allard, Alstom’s
VP, design and styling. “This project gave Alstom the opportunity to create a
very strong brand,” he says. “It’s very easy to recognize an Alstom.”
The aerodynamic design of the front canopy of the vehicle,
inspired by the cockpit of a fighter aircraft, features a nosecone cast in one
piece from the top of the windshield. The vehicle’s exterior design allows for
ease of customization by customers for co-branding, says Allard. The modular
interior can be outfitted to customer specifications including seating, luggage
racks and trim.
In addition to its high-tech visual appeal, the AGV
incorporates the extremely successful articulated trainset design used on all
TGVs which are made up of interdependent cars linked by a bogie (truck). Where
traditionally on the TGV, electronic power components were concentrated in the
lead and rear-power cars taking up valuable space, the AGV has made a step
forward, combining articulated architecture and distributed power (with
electronic power components installed under passengers coaches), making all the
space along the train available for passengers. “The new design distributes the
power system throughout the entire trainset, freeing up 20 percent extra floor
space for increased passenger capacity, as well as making power bogies more
readily accessible”, says Laurent Baron, AGV platform director.
On a traditional,
non-articulated trainset, cars sit on two bogies and are linked by couplings. A
traditional 200 m train (six passenger cars and two power cars) would feature
16 bogies, while the AGV is made up of 11 interdependent cars linked by a bogie
featuring 12 bogies total — 25 percent less. The reduced number of bogies also
allows for enhanced aerodynamics, as well as reduced maintenance costs, Lacôte
says. Safety is also a key advantage of the articulated design, which provides
rigidity to the trainset allowing it to remain in formation in most derailment
events. In other words, the trainset is unlikely to break-up with
the risk that cars could pile up.
“An advantage of the
articulated architecture is the comfort for passengers,” says Lacôte. Because
the bogies are a source of noise and vibration, the new design places bogies
far from passenger seating areas.
Other technological advancements featured on the AGV include
the use of permanent magnet synchronous motors. These permanent magnet motors
are more compact and energy efficient than previous generations of design.
These magnets, which create the magnetic field necessary for the motor to
function, help eliminate a big part of energy losses of traditional electric
motors. Its more compact design occupies one-third less space than asynchronous
The power electronic components are based on the latest
technology of IGBTs, that are more compact and energy efficient, and allow the
train to operate under four types of voltage: (European) 1500, 3000 and 15000,
as well as 25000 volts, which is more widely used in other parts of the world.
The vehicle’s braking system combines a rheostatic brake
with a regenerative braking system, which allows for unused power to be sent to
the national grid.