It doesn’t feel like a 30 year old design when you travel on France’s ultra modern TGV trains but that’s how old the design is for this byword in modern train comfort and convenience. They first ran in 1981. Although the Channel Tunnel rail operator Eurostar did not start services until 1994 they too have been operating an upgraded version of the TGV for the last 14 years.
However time waits for no man and Alstrom, builders of the original TGV have now designed a radically new version of their high speed train called the AGV. The new train is powered by electric motors under the floor of the coaches whereas the original TGV had power cars at each end. The AGV is promoted by Alstrom as being much more reliable in addition to being even quieter, having lower power consumption and less weight.
The rail industry is of course a major source of revenue for the large aluminum extrusion presses of the world. A new design means new dies and the chance to establish a long term supply partnership for a project likely to run for 10-15 years. Alstrom have already taken orders for the new train worth nearly $1b from Italy’s NTV. A Eurostar order would ultimately be worth even more because they have twice the number of trains and they are by regulation built to higher specifications.
When Korea put in their derivative of the TGV, called the KTX which links Seoul in the north to Busan in the south-east a new extrusion press was installed just to meet the demand for large aluminum extrusions. China also commissioned new press investments on the basis of their rolling (no pun intended) program of train development, originally working with Bombardier, Kawasaki, Siemens and lately Alstrom such that they now have nearly 600 high speed CRH trains in operation.
With large aluminum extrusion sales slowing in Europe producers are hoping Alstrom’s new AGV may fill the gaps that slowing economies and Airbus’ A380 have failed to do following delayed starts and sub optimal production rates.