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  4rail.net - Super High Speed Trains - Manufacturers          

There are only a handful of mainstream super high speed train manufacturers for the same reason as there are few aircraft manufacturers: the development cost of new models are immense! At the same time a number of manufacturers is practicing high speed train building and trying to push the technology envelope further to the direction of the super high speed, which is 275 km/h (171 mph) or more.  

The traditional manufacturers date decades back: Japanese consortiums which once lansered the "bullet train"("Shinkansen version 0"), Alstom with its highly successful product lines like TGV, AGV or Pendolino and Siemens with its best seller ICE and Velaro variants. While the volumes for the traditional manufacturers are large, there are also some newcomers like Bombardier (also known for its aircraft), Hyundai-Rotem and the Chinese builders for the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR). 

The numbers of the super high speed trains built are currently well exceeding 1000 EMUs (Electric Motor Units) with various constructions. Over 500 of these were built by Alstom alone, Siemens being the second largest builder in numbers. The Chinese numbers are growing rapidly and will surpass the Siemens in 3-4 years and Alstom maybe in 10 years. Japanese have been building trains for decades, but more in the high speed class instead of the super high speed.        

   
 The Japanese Manufacturers    

The story of the bullet trains dashing trough Japanese Shinkansen track back in 1964 is awesome. Although the speed of 210 km/h (130 mph) now seems little, the Shinkansen (translating the new rail line) and the term "bullet train" shows brilliant product development and excellent story telling capacity from the Japanese consortium behind thewse. The result: Everyone knows Japanese are tough high speed train manufacturers, the rail lines and the successfull trains on these. The latest super high speed train development is by Kawasaki which has now designed an E-5 type train for top speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph). The first units will be available for revenue service in Japan in 2011. The E-5 features an extra long nose unseen before for improved streamlining and crash resistance.   

  

 Alstom   
The French manufacturer Alstom has the broadest product portfolio, Pendolinos for the market entry, TGVs for the mature high volume super high speed market and the AGV for the next generation of the train operators. 


Picture: The Virgin operated British Pendolino class 390 stops at Watford Junction, United Kingdom. The Virgin Pendolinos have been a success story and there are more units in order and lengthening of dozens of trains is under way despite all the gloom of the economic slowdown. 
     

Pendolino: These trains provide the majority of the tilting trainsets of the world. The benefits are great: Pendolinos can run on conventional or semiconventional track, even curvy track at the top speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) for the newer units. The high speed traffic can be started relatively quickly and give time for the volume building of the train traffic, which often takes decades, while habits change slowly even with great benefits. While the pendolinos are running, the long term super high speed line building can be started. The investment costs for the super high speed systems are 3/4 to the track and 1/4 for the initial train units, both being typically in billions of euros per project. The use of Pendolinos led finally to building of the national super high speed track in United kingdom!    

    More on Pendolino EMUs...     

   


Picture: Two of the TGV fleet of the Thalys stop at terminus Gare du Nord in Paris on the hot summers day. There are over 500 super high speed TGV unit in traffic every day! The TGV was the greatest success in the super high speed trains during the 1980s and 1990s.  

TGV: Alstoms TGVs have been and still are the most successfull of all super high speed trains if you look at the numbers built and the volume of the traffic. France alone has almost 500 TGV or TGV like units in daily revenue traffic. TGVs are also used in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Italy as well as the United Kingdom (Eurostar units). Outside Europe TGV has also been successfull  in Korea, with more probabale orders to other countries following after the worldwide debt crises eases.  

    Lots of more on TGVs!     

     


Picture: The AGV is the promise for the future markets: lower operating costs, higher maximum speed and almost 100% planned availability! Picture from Velim test circuit by Miroslav Broz 2008, provided under Creative Commons Licence.

AGV: The AGV is the next generation super high speed platform from Alstom. While the type brings more space for the passengers obliterating the (TGV like) engine from both train ends, the real issue is the built in multimarket capability of the train. This might be the very first true Paneuropean train capable of taking passengers anywhere the networks of 1435 mm gauge and quad electricity systems (and train control systems) allow. Another issue is the top speed, wich is 360 km/h (224 mph) as well as the easy serviceability directly provided by builder Alstom. The prototype has been in a very thorough and intensive testing and remodeling for almost two years now with production units building starting for the lead customer NTV in Italy.  

    More on AGV...         

   

 Siemens   


Picture: An early ICE3 of the Deutsche Bahn is the forefather of the current bestseller Velaro trainsets. While the outside design is similar, there has been a lot of development work done in 15 years to perfect each and every system. Picture by Ilkka Siissalo, Munich, Germany.  

The German manufacturer Siemens has a large and strong division specializing in train building. Siemens Mobility has won most of the new super high speed orders world wide with its Velaro product line. Velaro is a large family of design trains for varying super high speed and high speed arenas, from Mediterranean mild climate to demanding arctic conditions of Russia. The trains are almost always customized to the customers specific demands.
   
The Velaro trains have so for been ordered for use in China (CRH3), Russia (Velaro-R/Velaro-Rus) and Spain (Velaro-E, E for Espana/Spain). Significantly more units have been added to the initial orders and more new orders are expected to follow soon.

    More on Velaro Product Line History...   

 

 Bombardier    

Bombardier has been throughoutly testing and perfecting its high speed technologies during the last few years. The breakthrough was the sales of the Zefiro 380 units to the MOR (Chinese ministry of railways). The 380 km/h trains will open another speed frontier on 'conventional' train technology, something that the aircraft manufacturer Bombardier is well capable of. The company is now named also one of the candidates to rebuild the TGV-PSE units to mint condition, a sign of confidence from the worlds largest super high speed operator SNCF. 
   
   

 Chinese Builders    

While the Chinese builders have in the latest phase building trains with licensed technologies from Alstom, Siemens and the Japanese, the next wave of building super high speed trains with "own" technology for use in the wast country and for exports was achi8eved in 2009. One of the most interesting Chinese train type is the super high speed sleeper train for use between Peking and Shanghai! While China has as largew super high speed market as the rest of the world combined, expect to see many Chinese builders to thrive and rise to cahallenge world markets.   
   
   

 CAF, Talgo, ...       

To be added...

Created for 4rail.net by John McKey. Pictures by Pekka Siiskonen, Ilkka Siissalo, Sanna Siissalo, TJ Hamalainen, Miroslav Broz, Stanislav Voronin, Siemens AG and John McKey.



 Also on super high speed

Super High Speed News provides you the newest happenings and trends in the super fast railroading. 
     

A TGV and AGV Theme Page provides information on these most succesfull super high speed trains.
   
 
 
See the Velaro & ICE 1,2,3 Page for these Siemens prides!


The Virgin Trains Pendolino class 390 is one of the many pendolinos found on the 4rail.net Pendolino page.  
   

It all started from Japan in 1964 with the first bullet train. See what the latest Shinkansens have to offer for the world! 
   

The Eurostars use the Channel Tunnel connect the U.K. to the mainland Europe. 
 

The Chinese CRH program is the most advanced  in the world and China will be the world leader in super high speed trains usage in just a few years.


One of the always popular trains is the Russian super high speed test train Sokol. While Sokol was a product in the wrong time period, the Russia today has an impressive high speed program starting.


Maglev of Germany and China starts the new generation of floating on the rail, the new comfort level of travelling!
Sources: The Net, La vie du Rail, Siemens AG, Trains Magazine, Alstom,  ...  

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4rail.net Railroad Reference 2004 - 2010  -  Created 20.2.2009,  Updated 8.1.2010  John McKey