Transpole has taken delivery of the first production VAL208 trainset. Matra Transport International is building 60 two-car sets for the Lille metro (MR98 p42), including the 16 station 12·5 km Line 2 extension from Fort de Mons to Tourcoing Centre, due to open on August 18. Trial running starts on June 21.

The VAL208 bodyshell is 2·08m wide, 20mm more than the VAL206, and is 100mm wider at cantrail level; a twin-car set is 26·14m long. Bodyshells are being produced by Fives-Lille subsidiary FCB, using a technique developed by Alusuisse. Aluminium/phenolic foam sandwich panels are glued to a structure of light alloy bolted sections. Windows are glued into position, and the VAL 208 has 30% more window area. The car ends and interior trim are in GRP. Styling is by Roger Tallon and Henri Baumgartner.

Traction equipment supplied by Parizzi is located underfloor, where space remains for options such as an inverter to power roof-mounted air-conditioning. Each car has four 65 kW self-ventilating traction motors, each powering a wheel through a single drive stage and representing, says Matra, the first rail application of synchronous permanent magnet technology developed for defence equipment. Traction control incorporates high-voltage IGBTs, with the traction inverter air-cooled by natural convection.

With each car weighing 14 tonnes, 1·5 tonnes less than the VAL206, the VAL208 can accelerate at 1·3m/s2 to a maximum speed of 80 or 100 km/h. Lighter bodies and more efficient traction equipment cut energy consumption by 15% compared with earlier builds, says Matra, and the brushless traction motors require overhaul every 600000 km. Braking is regenerative, backed by high-pressure electro-hydraulic discs on each motor for low speeds and parking.

Mechanical equipment is supplied by Vevey Technologies. Each car has four rubber-tyred running wheels, mounted on individual axle assemblies made largely from cast light alloy components. For lower weight, noise levels and maintenance requirements, the linkages between the axles and the rollers which guide the vehicle through points use laminated rubber/metal components (RG 12.98 p880) in place of springs and ball bearing rings.

With Siemens Transportation Systems now the majority shareholder in Matra (p400), final assembly of the cars for Lille is taking place at the SGP works in Wien. Future VAL208 production will include 16 two-car sets for Rennes and 14 two-car sets for the extension of Line A in Toulouse (MR99 p61), where the projected Line B would require 34 trainsets.

Matra Transport International

Reader Enquiry Number 139

CAPTION: Deeper windows are a distinctive feature of the VAL 208 cars, which are slightly wider than their VAL 206 predecessors