Paris: France’s high-speed TGV train will try to smash its own world record and reach speeds of up to 580 kilometres (360 miles) per hour. Manufacturer Alstom hopes this will help it trounce its Japanese and German rivals in a rapidly expanding market.
Weather conditions permitting, a black V150 train will rocket along a stretch of the new high-speed line between Paris and the city of Strasbourg on France’s border with Germany.
The experimental version of the train a Grande Vitesse (TGV) will aim to break the current 17-year-old record of 515.3 kilometres (320.2 miles) per hour. The train has already broken the record in several test runs carried out since mid-January, reaching speeds of 559 kph, according to the SNCF state rail operator.
The current world speed record for a train is 581 kph (2003) by a Japanese magnetic levitation train. But Alstom says that as these trains do not use ordinary rail tracks, this record cannot be compared with what theyhope to achieve on the Paris-Strasbourg line on 3 April which would be a culmination of several months of tests that have cost an estimated $40 mn(Rs180 crore) on a specially modified experimental train.
The Velaro, a high-speed train built by the German electrical engineering giant Siemens, currently holds the world speed record for a regular commercial train. That record of 404 kph was achieved last year.
“Beyond the technical exploit, this is part of an attempt to record data on the behaviour of infrastructure and rolling stock in extreme conditions which are impossible to carry out in the laboratory,” said a statement from the three partners involved in the upcoming test.
This feat, if it happens will also show off French engineering prowess and help boost Alstom’s sales of TGVs abroad, in a multi-billion-dollar market that increasingly competes with regional air links and where Japan’s Shinkansen and Germany’s Siemens are major players.
China, Korea and Taiwan are already big customers for high-speed trains, and Turkey, Brazil and Argentina are also entering the market.
Currently, average travelling speeds forTGV are 300 kms per hour but trains on the latest-generation Paris-Strasbourg line are to run slightly faster at 320 kms an hour.
Work began five years ago on the state-of-the-art Paris-Strasbourg TGV line, which opens to the public on 10 June. One of the biggest rail projects in Europe, it mobilized 10,000 workers and used 78,000 tonnes of steel (enough to build eight Eiffel towers).