FRANCE: SNCF President Guillaume Pepy inspected the first four bodyshells for the future fleet of articulated wide-bodied Paris suburban trains at Crespin in northern France on March 28. Unveiled by President of Bombardier France Jean Bergé, the design was previously called Spacium 3.06 because of its 3·06 m wide bodies (RG 9.07 p574), but it is now known as Francilien. Also present at the event was Jean-Paul Huchon, President of STIF, the organisation responsible for public transport in Ile de France.

Bombardier has spent €15m setting up a new production line, from which the first complete train will emerge in June, to begin a programme of trials on the factory test track and at the nearby Sogef test site in Valenciennes. It will be followed by five more prototypes which will be used to verify the performance of different components before assembly of the main production build starts in mid-2009.

Trials at 140 to 160 km/h will be staged at the Wegberg-Wildenrath test centre in northern Germany, and two sets will be sent to the Czech Republic for endurance trials on the Velim test circuit starting in July 2009. Another set will travel to Wien for tests in the climate chamber there.

The first two production sets are due to be delivered to SNCF in October 2009, entering commercial service in mid-December. Two more trains will follow that month with another pair in January 2010. Until April 2010 the six trains will be allocated to off-peak diagrams, and from May delivery will ramp up to 28 sets a year. Deliveries of up to 40 trains a year will continue until 2015-16.

The 172 dual-voltage sets ordered in November 2006 under a €1·8bn contract shared equally between SNCF and STIF are being built as 117 eight-car and 55 seven-car formations. Services from ?Paris Nord to Persan-Beaumont via Montsoult-Maffliers and Valmondois, and from Nord to Luzarches and Pontoise, will be worked by 82 eight-car sets. The other 35 eight-car formations will be allocated to routes from Paris Est to Meaux and Coulommiers, and the 55 short sets will be used on services from Paris St Lazare to Mantes-la-Jolie, Ermont-Eaubonne and Cergy-le-Haut.

Arrival of the air-conditioned Francilien fleet will allow withdrawal of single-deck stainless steel EMUs and push-pull formations and reallocation of double-deck EMUs. Options taking the total contract value to €2·7bn would increase the Francilien fleet by up to 200 sets.

  • CAPTION: STIF President Jean-Paul Huchon and SNCF President President Guillaume Pepy visted Bombardier's Crespin plant on March 28