EUROPE: Work is underway to obtain approval for Talgo’s Avril high speed train design to operate in France, the manufacturer has confirmed.
The announcement on February 3 came as the first Avril trainset for RENFE began dynamic type testing runs on the recently opened high speed line between Olmedo, Zamora and Pedralba de la Pradería in Galicia, where relatively few revenue services are currently operating because of the pandemic.
These commissioning tests are expected to last several weeks, with speeds gradually being increased to 363 km/h, 10% above its maximum commercial speed of 330 km/h. Once the Galician trials are completed, the manufacturer says that tests may be conducted on other routes.
RENFE has ordered a total of 30 Avril trainsets, which are formed of 12 short-wheelbase cars with seating for 581 passengers. Half of the fleet is fitted only with 1 435 mm gauge wheelsets, while the rest are gauge-changing trains also able to operate on Spain’s legacy 1 668 mm gauge network.
RENFE announced in July 2019 its intention equip 10 Avril trainsets for operation north of the Pyrénées as part of its plan to enter the French high speed passenger market in competition with SNCF. The new trains would enable it to run services to and from Paris.
For several years prior to the pandemic, SNCF and RENFE had jointly operated services between France and Spain; the Spanish incumbent used refurbished S100 trainsets dating from the early 1990s to serve Lyon and Marseille from Madrid, while Paris – Barcelona trains were operated using SNCF’s TGV Euroduplex trainsets.
- In early February RENFE awarded Talgo a 30-year contract worth €221∙5m covering maintenance of the 15 gauge-changing sets. This complements a 30-year agreement worth €399∙2m for the standard gauge fleet which was finalised in September last year.