Murray Hughes reports from Troyes

BOMBARDIER Transportation staged a high-profile event on October 9 to mark the official entry into service of its AGC dual-voltage electro-diesel multiple-units with trains converging simultaneously on Troyes in the Champagne-Ardenne region from Paris and Dijon.

The two trains were greeted at Troyes by local dignitaries and a band on the platform, but a noisy group of union demonstators took advantage of the presence of SNCF President Anne-Marie Idrac to compete for attention. Idrac named the train on which she had travelled 'Troyes' before taking part in a debate in the town hall on transport and sustainable development.

During the ceremony at the station, Mayor of Troyes François Baron called for electrification of the line from Gretz to Troyes, and in the ensuing debate the cause was taken up by President of the Champagne-Ardenne Regional Council Jean-Paul Bachy. The project is included in government and regional proposals for transport investment in 2007-13, but no target date has been set and no funding agreement is in place.

Bombardier had invited guests from France, the UK, Romania, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Russia and the USA, taking the opportunity to demonstrate the four-car articulated trainset's ability to change traction modes on the move. Although the event was billed as a 'world première', four of the trains had in fact been in service since June. Four more identical trainsets are due to enter service between Paris, Troyes and Culmont-Chalindrey in 2008-09.

Bombardier said on October 9 that it had received orders for 698 AGC trainsets from 21 French regions. The AGC comes in four versions: diesel, dual-voltage electric (1·5 kV DC and 25 kV AC), electro-diesel with 1·5 kV DC, and electro-diesel dual-voltage (1·5 kV DC and 25 kV AC). The electro-diesel dual-voltage sets are known as 'BiBi' (bimode, bicourant) and were first ordered by Champagne-Ardenne; 140 sets of this type have been ordered so far.

The BiBi has low-floor sections between the bogies and a considerable amount of equipment is mounted on the roof, including the main transformer and the power converters.

Among guests from the UK at the event was Virgin West Coast Managing Director Chris Gibb, who could see a use for dual-mode trains on routes such as London to Chester.

  • CAPTION: During the demonstration run on October 9, guests from around the world were able to inspect the dual-mode, dual-voltage version of Bombardier's AGC multiple-unit

Technical data for BiBi electro-diesel dual-voltage AGC trainset

Number of cars 4
Power supply

25 kV 50 Hz or

1·5 kV DC

Power rating (in electric mode) kW 1 300
Installed power 2 MTU underfloor diesel engines rated at 588 kW at 1 800 rev/min
Length over couplers m 72·8
End car length mm 21 000
Intermediate car length mm 15 400
Width mm 2 950
Height above rail top mm 4 020
Entrance height above rail top mm 590
Floor height above rail top (over bogie) mm 1 260
Floor height above rail top (centre of car) mm 590
Maximum speed km/h 160
Laden weight tonnes 170
Seating capacity 204 to 220
Acceleration (25 kV) m/s² 0·67
Acceleration (1·5 kV ) m/s² 0·66
Acceleration (diesel) m/s² 0·47