During 1998 SNCF will spend Fr4·5bn on the purchase of new rolling stock, of which Fr300m will be contributed by the régions towards the cost of regional multiple units.

The last seven of the 146 dual-system Sybic Bo-Bo electric locos are due to be delivered from GEC Alsthom’s Belfort works by the end of June. The same plant is also rolling out 30 Astride three-system derivatives ordered in 1993. Eight had been delivered by December, but none were commissioned at the end of January. Two per month will be delivered during 1998, with the remaining eight due in the first months of 1999.

June 1998 will also see the arrival of the last of the 30 Duplex TGVs ordered in July 1995; 21 of these had been delivered and commissioned by the end of 1997. All 17 four-system Thalys TGV-PBKA sets (6 for SNCF, 9 for SNCB and 2 for NS) had been delivered and commissioned by the end of January 1998.

On the suburban front, 151 Z2N high-capacity double-deck EMUs of the 20500 series were ordered from GEC-Alsthom’s CIMT Marly works in 1992 and 1995. So far 78 sets have been delivered, and the last is due during the first part of 2000.

Another 53 five-car double-deck EMUs were ordered in November 1992 for éole services across Paris. By the end of 1997, 12 had been delivered (below, centre), but only four were commissioned. Deliveries are due to continue at two to four sets per month until the end of 1999.

After many years of neglect, substantial investment is going into renewing SNCF’s regional fleet.

Of the 85 TER X 72500 two-car DMUs ordered from GEC-Alsthom’s Aytré works near La Rochelle, seven had been delivered by the end of 1997 (far right). Another 50 are expected this year and the rest during 1999. Each car is powered by two MAN Diesel engines rated at 300 kW each, with Voith hydraulic transmissions. In the next few months, one set will be sent to SNCF’s Nevers workshop, where it will be fitted with Fiat tilting equipment for trials on the meandering Massif Central lines between Clermont-Ferrand and Brive. A batch of 15 three-car derivatives is also on order, with deliveries scheduled between September 1998 and mid-1999.

A double-deck electric version (TER2N) is now being built by GEC-Alsthom’s Marly works with Bombardier-owned ANF Industrie. The first of 76 two-car units is now on test (bottom right), and the last sets are expected at the beginning of 2000. The Z23500 power car is fitted with four asynchronous motors of 375 kW each and Onix IGBT traction controls. Top speed is 140 km/h. Each unit has 175 seats in 2nd class and 19 in 1st class, with 16 folding seats and space for 178 standing passengers; they can run in multiple up to eight cars.

August 1997 saw the arrival of the last of five two-car EMUs from Vevey’s Villeneuve works in Switzerland for the metre-gauge Saint-Gervais - Martigny line in the Alps. Three sets belong to SNCF, and two to the Swiss Martigny - Chatelard Railway.

In May 1997, 65 TER X 73500 single regional railcars were ordered from De Dietrich Ferroviaire of Reichshoffen. They are known as autorails franco-allemands, as Deutsche Bahn has ordered 40 of the same design from GEC-Alsthom subsidiary Linke-Hofmann-Busch to reduce the cost of studies, design and construction. Each car will have two MAN diesel engines of 257 kW and Voith hydraulic transmissions. Second-class only, they will have 68 fixed and 16 folding seats, and up to three cars will be able to work in multiple. The first vehicle is expected in December 1998, and the last by mid-2000.

Freight loco strategy

Mid-1998 is likely to see the signing of a contract for new electric freight locos; there are none on order at present.

SNCF feels that at Fr18m each the Sybics and other sophisticated multi-current locos are too expensive to buy and maintain. They are designed to run at 200 km/h on passenger work and to haul heavy freight trains. But 200 km/h is no longer seen as essential for freight, marking an internal U-turn compared with public statements made a decade ago when the Sybics were developed.

Fret SNCF is now planning a fleet of simpler dedicated freight locos to replace its older equipment. One option was to rebuild the 294-strong fleet of BB16500 25 kV locos built in the 1960s, but this was rejected as 294 locos was considered too small a fleet for the long term.

The future freight locomotives, expected to cost no more than Fr10m each, will be rated at 3000 to 4000 kW, compared with 5600 kW for the Sybics. Maximum speed will be 140 km/h, or 120 km/h with an 800 tonne train up a 1% grade. All will be equipped for 25 kV 50Hz and 1·5 kV DC operation. Some may have 3 kV DC to run in Belgium and Italy, whilst others may have 15 kV 16 2??3 Hz for Germany. They may also be fitted with an auxiliary diesel engine for shunting in marshalling yards or private sidings, eliminating the cost of shunting locos for some applications.

Fret SNCF is looking for 300 units with an option for another 300, but in the short term a trial batch of 30 to 60 is planned. A European invitation to tender was issued in 1997, and GEC-Alsthom, Matra-Siemens and Adtranz have submitted offers. The last two bidders favour derivatives of existing types: Adtranz proposes a version of DB Cargo’s Class 145, whilst Matra-Siemens plans a Eurosprinter version. Fret SNCF and the Rolling Stock & Traction Department was due to announce its favoured option on February 15. o