INTRO: While exploring new avenues away from their established core businesses, Spanish rolling stock builders Patentes Talgo and CAF are content to remain outside the larger international groupings, forming temporary alliances as required

IN JUNE Patentes Talgo is due to begin dynamic tests of a low-cost prototype trainset for 225 km/h operation, incorporating the company’s well-established passive tilt system and a 1500 kW diesel-hydraulic power car at each end. Developed by Krauss-Maffei to a Talgo design and featuring an MTU engine, the power car with its one powered bogie and shared single axle will also be at each end of a gauge-changing version due to appear in October.

According to Talgo Board Member Francisco de Lorenzo, this tilting trainset could easily be produced with two electric power cars rated at around 1·7MW each, and in its single-gauge version has formed the basis of the Talgo bid for a Polish State Railways contract for nine seven-car trainsets (RG 10.97 p637). He believes that the gauge-changing version could be of interest to virtually any operator confronted by a break of gauge, from established and emerging markets across Europe to India, Japan and Australia.

With the high-speed line from Madrid to Barcelona and the French border in mind, a 350 km/h Talgo Pendular trainset is under development. This will comprise eight coaches and two 4200 kW electric power cars with a conventional Bo-Bo wheel arrangement. The trainset will have an axleload of 17 tonnes and is initially intended for 1435mm gauge operation only, as further development work is required to accommodate the higher number of brake discs needed for high-speed operation on a telescopic stub axle.

De Lorenzo expects the first four cars of the high-speed Talgo Pendular to be ready in September. Track testing of six coaches and a single power car, whose manufacture is currently out to tender, could begin around the end of 1999.

New markets

With the delivery of the last of 38 InterCityNight coaches for German Railway in February and two Talgo Pendular 200 formations for Spanish National Railways’ Mediterranean Corridor in June, Talgo’s 1997 accounts record income from rolling stock of Pts1·5bn. The Talgo group as a whole made a profit of Pts830m on income of Pts11bn, which included Pts8·4bn from maintenance activities in Spain, Germany and the USA and Pts1·2bn from sales of wheel lathes and wheel-balancing equipment.

This year, Francisco de Lorenzo expects rolling stock income of Pts8bn, with delivery of two Talgo Pendular 200 trainsets to Renfe scheduled for the end of May. Five formations are to be delivered to the USA in November for final assembly by Pacifica Inc (RG 5.97 p290). Four will be deployed between Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, with the fifth operated by Amtrak between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Income of the Talgo group is expected to rise to Pts26bn in 1998, largely through

diversification into armoured vehicle maintenance and repair, and a profit of Pts1·8bn is forecast. Pending final

approval from the Russian government, de Lorenzo expects joint-venture production of variable-gauge freight axles to begin this year at the Izhora plant in St Petersburg. Up to 250 axles will be delivered this year, with the factory producing up to 1000 axles a year within five years.

Following earlier mild weather which prevented effective testing of Talgo freight axles under extreme winter conditions, a second phase of trials is expected to finish this month at the Haparanda gauge-changing installation in Sweden, close to the border with Finland. To produce gauge-changing axles for intermodal and other wagons, de Lorenzo suggests that Swedish Railways may purchase a Talgo licence, as Sumitomo has done in Japan for passenger bogies incorporating gauge-changing axles. A portable installation similar to that installed at Haparanda may be supplied this year for Terespol in Poland.

Talgo hopes that its freight axle for 1435 and 1668mm gauge operation will gain Renfe approval this year, having already successfully completed 3million changing cycles on a testbed at the manufacturer’s Aravaca works. For operation under car transporters at up to 140 km/h, Talgo has developed its gauge-changing passenger axle and has built a test vehicle. This project is due for completion in 1999, and additional work has begun on a 200 km/h version for a proposed seasonal Dortmund - Barcelona motorail service.

Small is beautiful

Francisco de Lorenzo of Talgo believes that size is not necessarily an advantage in the railway industry, and this is certainly a view shared by Alejandro Legarda, Managing Director of CAF. Rather than form part of a larger international grouping, CAF enjoys its freedom as an independent company to seek out orders beyond the frontiers of its comparatively small domestic market. The company selects its bidding partners on a case-by-case basis; at the end of 1997 59% of

CAF’s backlog was for

export. In 1997 CAF recorded income of Pts43·7bn, up 8% from the year before, and made a profit after tax of Pts1·4bn, up 2·5%on 1996. The order backlog stood at Pts84·8bn at end of 1997.

At present, the CAF order book includes mechanical work on 10 SM4 two-car low-floor EMUs for VR’s Helsinki suburban services, under sub-contract to Fiat Ferroviaria, and 15 of the 30 double-deck EMUs ordered from CAF and GEC Alsthom Transporte for the North-South link across the Tagus and Linha do Norte suburban services in Lisboa (below). In Brazil, São Paulo suburban operator CPTM has ordered 30 four-car EMUs from Adtranz, CAF and GEC Alsthom.

CAF has completed deliveries of 11 Airport Express and 12 Tung Chung EMUs built in joint venture with Adtranz for MTR Corp of Hong Kong; trials and training are now in progress prior to the opening of the Airport Railway at the end of June. Delivery of the 14 four-car Heathrow Express EMUs in Great Britain is continuing, and Legarda is hopeful of a follow-on order for the proposed airport service from St Pancras. The Heathrow Express Class 332 formed the basis of the CAF/Siemens bid for 16 three-car EMUs for Regional Railways North East, for which a letter of intent has now been signed.

New directions

CAF is now looking to enter the US market, bidding with Adtranz to supply seven DMUs for Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Keystone Corridor between Philadelphia and Harrisburg. Selected as preferred bidders in December, Adtranz is proposing a derivative of the 16 TRD sets CAF is building for Renfe, which in turn is a variant on the Adtranz Flexliner concept. Legarda hopes to follow this with a bid to supply 80 metro cars to Washington DC, where bids are due in December.

In Spain, CAF is maintaining its traditional presence in the commuter and metro market (which as Legarda points out represents some 60% of demand worldwide), with orders for 20 Class 447 EMUs for RENFE, 20 EMUs for Catalunya Railways, as well as 72 Series 2000 and 44 Series 6000 trainsets for Madrid Metro. CAF has recently delivered five Series 2100 trainsets to Barcelona Metro, and 12 trailers for existing Series 2000 formations.

At the same time, CAF, Siemens and Adtranz signed a contract with Renfe on January 26 to develop a prototype 220 km/h tilting trainset. Equipped with a CAF electric tilt system, which is to be installed on the last Renfe TRD, the three-car unit will seat 170 passengers. Delivery is scheduled to take place within 30months of contract signature. Another important development is a prototype 100% low-floor modular LRV, which CAF hopes to unveil next year. o

CAPTION: Following successful demonstration of Talgo technology, the Izhora plant in St Petersburg is poised to build up to 250 gauge-changing axles this year, and up to 1000 axles a year within five years

Sharing the risk

To meet its future rolling stock needs without incurring further debt, Renfe has proposed the creation of Agrupaciones de Interés Económico, or Economic Interest Groups, that would be equally owned by the national railway and the rolling stock supplier. Within these train provision ’joint ventures’, Renfe would be responsible for operation and maintenance, with income from a dedicated revenue stream and outgoings in the form of lease payments to the train builder, and track access charges raised by the Spanish government as owner of the national railway network.

The corridors initially chosen for this experiment were Madrid - Valencia and Madrid - Alicante, the Regional Express network in Catalunya and suburban services in Bilbao and on the Madrid - Parla route. Although the fine detail of the AIE concept has yet to emerge, it appears that the Ministry of Development (responsible for transport) has rejected this solution for the Madrid - Parla route. The apparent reasons for this are the difficulty of isolating revenue streams, as well as the more political issue of the private partner taking a share of the public subsidies supporting the route. Instead, it is expected that the ministry will authorise Renfe to purchase 46 suburban EMUs using conventional government financing.

As an attempt to introduce new trains in line with present budgetary constraints and within the current structure of the Spanish railway system, the AIE concept is perhaps, as Talgo Board Member Francisco de Lorenzo sees it, ’the least worst solution’, with the subsidy-free inter-city corridors having the most promise. Otherwise, he foresees lean times ahead for those reliant on the Spanish market. At CAF the response is more optimistic, with Managing Director Alejandro Legarda seeing the joint ventures as a gentle introduction to market forces for the state railway. o

CAPTION: CAF is building 16 TRD sets for Renfe, which are derived from the Adtranz Flexliner design