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Talgo at home and abroad

01 Jan 2001

BEYOND the glittering prize of the Madrid - Barcelona high speed train contract, Spanish rolling stock manufacturer Patentes Talgo sees a promising future in what CEO Francisco de Lorenzo describes as its 'very open' home market. The government's 2000-07 Railway Infrastructure Programme, costed at Pts4·7bn, combines the construction of high-speed lines with the upgrading of conventional routes for 200 km/h, and Talgo's bids for future orders will be based on two key products.

Alongside the Talgo 350 developed for the Madrid - Barcelona bid and due to begin 300 km/h trials last November, the Talgo XXI will be offered for gauge-changing applications. The prototype trainset and its diesel-hydraulic power car (RG 5.00 p316) has completed an 18-month test programme, during which it demonstrated 'fantastic stability' according to de Lorenzo. An electric version of the Talgo XXI has been offered to Renfe in response to a call for tenders for eight gauge-changing trainsets, and as with the Madrid - Barcelona contract Talgo is bidding with Adtranz.

Renfe is replacing its oldest locomotive-hauled Talgo III coaches with 19 rakes of 'seventh generation' cars, ordered at a cost of Pts12bn and featuring gauge-changing wheelsets. Capable of operating at up to 220 km/h, nine formations were due to have been delivered by the end of 2000, with the final trainset to be rolled out in summer 2001.

The Spanish market accounted for 44% of Talgo's turnover of Pts18·5bn in 1999, with 52% generated elsewhere in Europe and 4% originating in the USA. As Talgo has continued to acquire businesses outside Spain, turnover is expected to reach some Pts31·5bn in 2000 and de Lorenzo can see the day when the USA will be providing up to 30% of this figure. On acquisitions the Talgo CEO says 'we haven't finished yet', adding that companies purchased to date have been 'very carefully chosen' to provide 'growth without trouble'. Talgo made a pre-tax profit of Pts1·6bn in 1999, expected to rise slightly to Pts1·7bn in 2000 due mainly to costs and debt incurred by the expansion process.

As well as providing access to new markets, the acquisition of Transtech of Finland has strengthened Talgo's research and development capability and aluminium expertise, and has brought on board a product range including double-deck coaches and specialised freight wagons. Talgo Transtech Oy is currently bidding to supply 200 car-carriers for German Railway with a maximum speed of 200 km/h. Comprising two wagon bodies riding on three sets of single Talgo axles, this is a 'unique product' with 'great prospects' according to de Lorenzo.

In the USA, formation of the Talgo LRC joint venture (RG 7.00 p408) has increased Talgo's involvement in locomotive maintenance, bringing with it a 65-strong leasing fleet. In March 2000 passenger car overhaul business TTA had joined the Talgo group, bringing with it an order backlog worth US$100m including metro car refurbishment for New York and San Francisco. Maintenance accounted for 50% of Talgo's turnover in 1999.

De Lorenzo sees the inter-city passenger market as the major opportunity in the USA, requiring a product that is 'simple, cheap and fits local conditions'. A version of the Talgo XXI compatible with US end-loading standards has been offered to Amtrak and the states of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin (RG 10.00 p633), and a diesel-electric power car is being developed in conjunction with Siemens.

The Talgo XXI is being proposed for the Moscow - St Petersburg route. De Lorenzo hopes to see Talgo's emerging joint venture with the Russian Ministry of Railways sign its first contracts by the end of 2000, and sees potential for moving freight into Scandinavia and eastern Europe using the company's gauge-changing technology. The economic situation of the former Soviet Union is less than favourable at present, but when it improves 'we will be ready', he says.

There is also an 'enormous' amount of freight, oil products in particular, moving across the break of gauge between China and Kazakhstan, where Talgo recently won a Pts6bn contract to supply two 23-car trainsets for the Almaty - Astana route.

CAPTION: Talgo is bidding a derivative of the Talgo XXI diesel prototype for the Midwest Regional Rail System of quasi-high-speed services radiating from Chicago

CAPTION: Series VII coaches such as this preferente vehicle are matched with the Talgo XXI power cars

Final drives for the gauge-convertible Talgo XXI diesel-hydraulic Bt power cars built by Talgo and Krauss Maffei were developed by Voith for operation at speeds up to 200 km/h with an 18 tonne axleload. The drives must be centred on each axle to ensure equal free space on both sides for the wheels to move during gauge changing. The wheels are mounted on stub axles with toothed ends, which can slide laterally within a hollow drive shaft with internal teeth (red). Power is transmitted from the engine to tbe bogie via a cardan shaft, and another shaft links the drives on each axle. The hollow axle shafts are driven through a gear chain and flexible quills (blue)