CONTRACTS for the first components of a seven-car ultra high speed demonstration train with distributed power have just been placed by Alstom Transport. Representing the next stage in the company's development of the Automotrice à Grande Vitesse, the AGV-7 demonstrator will be completed in 2007 and funded entirely by Alstom.

Alstom gained experience with distributed traction using the Elisa prototype AGV vehicles in 2001 (RG 11.01 p751), since when the company has continued to refine the concept. François Lacôte, Senior Vice-President, Technical, of Alstom Transport, affirmed at the Eurailspeed event in Milano last month that 'nearly all research has been completed for us to offer a single-deck high speed train with the same capital and operating cost per seat as a double-deck TGV'. A 200m version of the AGV, he said, would seat 460 passengers, 90 more than a conventional TGV of the same length with separate power cars.

Lacôte confirmed that the seven-car demonstrator would use permanent magnet traction motors (RG 4.03 p208), a technology which he said is now 'mature'. Apart from the advantage of low mass, the technique avoids the need for the tripod transmission used on TGV trainsets.

The AGV-7 will have four of its eight bogies powered, and the same proportion of powered axles would be retained for any production build - Alstom envisages that AGV formations of up to 14 cars would be possible. Three cars will normally form an electrical unit, with the transformer, converter and auxiliary equipment spread over the three cars. Static axleload will be 17 tonnes, as on a TGV.

Lacôte said the AGV's articulated cars would be slightly shorter than on TGVs, allowing the use of 3m wide bodies.

The demonstration train is aimed partly at China where plans continue to evolve for the Beijing - Shanghai high speed line, but France is also in the company's sights - Lacôte comments that SNCF is 'serious' about its proposals to run at 350km/h.

  • CAPTION: Assembly of the first of 12 seven-car Pendolino trainsets for Trenitalia is well advanced at Alstom's Savigliano works. The fourth-generation Pendolinos are designed to run at 250km/h after delivery commences next year. A further 14 sets for Cisalpino will follow the Trenitalia units off the production line