Transilien stock updated
PARIS COMMUTERS got a sneak preview of the future on January 16, when French National Railways' Transilien business unit unveiled the first of 936 suburban coaches to be refurbished over the next three years. Participating in the ceremonies at the Gare de l'Est were SNCF President Louis Gallois, the Préfet of the Ile-de-France region Jean-Pierre Duport and the President of the regional council Jean-Paul Huchon.
The package forms part of an agreement between the French government and the region signed in April 2000. The €244m cost is being funded by grants of €46m each from Ile-de-France and the Syndicat des Transports d'Ile-de-France, a €152m loan from the region and one of €86m from STIF, plus €46m from SNCF.
The programme covers 334 cars in the RIB/RIO 'inox' push-pull trainsets, 200 Z2N double-deck EMU cars and 402 VB2N vehicles operating in double-deck push-pull sets. The VB2N sets are being refurbished at SNCF's Rennes carriage works, the Z2Ns at St Pierre des Corps and the RIB/RIO stock at Saintes.
Designs for the refurbishment were drawn up by two external agencies under contracts awarded in October 2000. RCP has been responsible for exterior design, and Avant Première for the interiors. All vehicles will receive a new blue-and-grey Transilien livery with coloured panels to highlight doors and internal features. This will be treated with an anti-graffiti coating to reduce the impact of vandalism.
More comfortable ergonomically-designed seating is being fitted throughout, with individual seats replacing the traditional benches. These are covered in vandal-resistant cloth in blue, yellow and red. The layout and mix of 2+3 and 2+2 seating is being modified to im-prove capacity, free up standing space, and provide a wider gangway. Inter-car corridor connections and doorways are being altered to improve the distribution of passengers through the trains.
Passenger information will be provided in all vestibule areas. The double-deck sets will also have automatic announcements and scrolling visual information displays in each vehicle. The RIB and VB2N sets will get new lighting, and the windows are also being changed to improve the interior ambience.
Both fleets of double-deckers are to be provided with 'refrigerated ventilation' to augment the existing 'warmed ventilation' provided in the winter. SNCF has been reluctant to fit full air-conditioning to suburban stock, despite regular problems with overheating on the glazed upper decks in the summer.
Two spaces for disabled passengers and travellers with prams or heavy luggage have been created in each trainset, and provision is being made at the outer ends of each set for bicycles. Retention toilets are being installed throughout.
Automatic door locks are also being fitted to the Z2N units, which will enable the train crew to lock the end vehicles out of use and concentrate passengers in the centre of the train when operating late night services.
CAPTION: Right: The bright 'berlingot' highlighting the disabled area is prominent on this reliveried Transilien RIB 'inox' trainset
CAPTION: The colourful individual seats, panoramic windows and new blue floor coverings provide a bright atmosphere on the upper deck of a refurbished VB2N