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Bidders line up in high speed race

01 May 2000

ON MARCH 28 the board of Spanish National Railways approved the start of tendering for between 26 and 40 high speed trainsets to be deployed on the Madrid - Barcelona route and its continuation to the French border. Potential bidders had 40 days from the publication of the tender notice to submit expressions of interest; those subsequently shortlisted would be given three months to prepare and submit their bids, with negotiations leading to a contract award by the end of this year.

On offer is a contract worth around Pts111bn, to supply and maintain a fleet capable of a Madrid - Barcelona journey time within 2h 30min, on a route that is being laid out for a maximum speed of between 300 and 350 km/h. As well as the ERTMS signalling selected for the Madrid - Barcelona route, the new trains will require on-board equipment for the LZB system in use on the Madrid - Sevilla line and Renfe's ASFA system.

As with the AVE sets for Madrid - Sevilla, seating will be provided in three classes: Club (10%) Preferente (30%) and Turista (60%). Seats in Club and Preferente, laid out in semi-compartments and a 2+1 arrangement respectively, will rotate, with this option gaining extra weight if offered for the 2+2 Turista class. A bar area is to be provided between Preferente and Turista, with control equipment for the train's passenger information and entertainment system located nearby. Club class is to have a meeting room with between six and eight seats, and family compartments will be provided in Turista.

Bidders will also be required to present a whole-life maintenance strategy for the trains, over a term of about 14 years. The operator is also looking for finance proposals such as leasing that will reduce the impact on its balance sheet of procuring the new trains, and particularly Renfe's total level of debt.

Builder of the AVE fleet for the Madrid - Sevilla route and its 1668mm gauge Euromed variant, Alstom Transport is offering a TGV with distributed power. Briefly promoted in Spain as TGV400, the design with active lateral suspension will be known as Automotrice à Grande Vitesse. The traction package will include IGBTs, and nominal power rating for a 180m long nine-car set seating 359 passengers will be 7200 kW; a 350 km/h version would have eddy current brakes, already tested on a TGV Réseau set.

AGVs will retain the articulated formation of earlier TGV builds. The company says that a 320 km/h tilting version will be available, although it does not expect this to be relevant to Spain. Alstom is also offering a conventional TGV.

Speaking on April 3, Patentes Talgo President José Luis de Oriol said that he expected the company's high speed train to begin trials in Spain in September, with the first 4000 kW Bo-Bo electric power car developed by Adtranz with Krauss-Maffei mechanical equipment expected to arrive in Spain during April.

Talgo has invested Pts6bn in developing its high speed product, which would comprise between eight and 12 Series 7 cars between two power cars.

Noting that this train would be capable of 350 km/h and a Madrid - Barcelona journey time of 2h 15min, de Oriol said that Talgo was working on a financial package that would enable Renfe to acquire the fleet at a 'reasonable' cost.

Siemens will be offering a variant of the German ICE3.

CAPTION: The first 4000 kW Bo-Bo electric Talgo power car being developed by Adtranz with Krauss-Maffei mechanical equipment was due to arrive in Spain last month