Destined to link Madrid with Barcelona at up to 350 km/h, two eight-car Velaro E trainsets are on test in Spain

COMMISSIONING of the first two Velaro E trainsets has begun at Renfe's La Sagra workshops in Spain, and trial running on the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line at up to 385 km/h is due to commence in January 2006. This should allow the initial fleet of 16 trains, known in Spain as AVE S103, to be handed to Renfe by the end of 2006. A further 10 sets ordered in March 2004 will follow.

Designed and built by Siemens, the Velaro E fleet is TSI-compliant and is due to enter service at a maximum speed of 350 km/h over the 640 km between Madrid and Barcelona in January 2007. The highest maximum in Europe at the moment is 330 km/h, which is permitted on the Köln - Frankfurt Neubaustrecke.

Production is centred at the Siemens plant in Krefeld, where many factory processes have been automated, including tension force weighing and body gauging. Most of the aluminium bodyshells are fabricated on site using large extrusions, but some are made at the Siemens plant in Praha.

Siemens' original contract provided for the Velaro E fleet to be assembled by CAF and Alstom in Spain, but in practice this proved impossible, obliging Siemens to revise the contract and move the bulk of production back to Germany - just two cars of each Velaro set are being assembled at the Renfe works in Valladolid.

On July 25 Dr Dietrich Müller, President of Siemens Transportation Systems' Trains Division, conceded that the changes had delayed production and delivery, but he pointed out that the consequences were limited as the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line was still far from complete.

The Velaro E is a derivative of German Railway's ICE3 (RG 10.02 p641) with distributed power. Equipped for operation only at 25 kV 50Hz, it has a continuous power rating of 8800 kW, with drive to 16 out of 32 axles. Level 2 ETCS equipment and GSM-R radio are fitted, together with LZB80 inductive train control and the Spanish ASFA train protection system. The air-conditioning system has been uprated to cope with outside temperatures of 50°C.

Whereas the ICE3 had eddy-current rail brakes, the Velaro E does not. Siemens noted that the equipment had caused problems on the German network, and that there had been fears it could interfere with signalling. Normal braking from high speed first applies the regenerative brake, with a 7200 kW rheostatic brake phased in when the supply network cannot accept further braking energy from the traction motors; resistances in the rheostatic brake have forced-air cooling.

The pressure-sealed interior has 404 seats in three classes of accommodation. Club class seating is in an end car where passengers will enjoy service from a dedicated galley and have access to a boardroom-style lounge with loose chairs, a table and a view of the track. Two cars have seating arranged 2+1 in Preferente class, and one car is devoted to a bar-cafeteria; this car also houses a customer service desk, the train manager's office and an area for checked luggage. The other four cars all have 2+2 seating for tourist class.

Rotatable seats in all classes give passengers a view of ceiling-mounted video entertainment screens, and staff can select different channels for groups of cars. Seven stereo audio programmes are available at every seat from the Focon audio entertainment and information system, and different passenger information can be displayed or announced selectively in different cars.

Siemens has chosen Velaro International as the brand name for its high speed train products. The current build of 13 Series 2 ICE3 sets for DB has 458 seats, and Siemens says that a version could be developed with 600 seats in the same 200m train length. The next development is likely to be a broad gauge version for Russia in eight-car and 12-car variants, and the company hopes to have a firm contract for these by the end of the year. It will also offer the Velaro for 30 high speed trains expected to be tendered in Italy this month.

  • CAPTION: Fig 1. Maximum starting tractive effort for Velaro E is 283 kN
  • FIG 2. All eight cars in a Velaro E are different. Seating arrangements for all three classes are shown