Search This Blog

04 April 2007

whooooooooooooooooosh! wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Cliquez bien sur

The French TGV (Tres Grande Vitesse) train V150, which has just broken the world speed record -- 357 miles per hour / 574.8 kilometers per hour -- for wheel-on-track trains. A slower version of the train will begin running this summer.

That's my comment (jameskpolka) down below. USA! We're Number 607!

19th-century trains featured a cowcatcher, a triangular guard in front of the engine to bounce cows off to the side of the track. Speed's picked up a bit and now they worry about smashing into a bird.

I did the Chunnel TGV once, from Bruxelles to London. They kept their promise of London by Lunch. But I don't think I'll be riding TGV very much in the future. Traditional trains for me, I think.

1. It rides in a deep ditch in the ground for noise abatement. You look out the window and all you see is the sides of the ditch.

2. Me and my backpack arrived at Bruxelles station with plenty of time to spare -- from my experience with European trains, the traditional 5 minutes. So I missed my train. The TGV has the same paranoid security as an airport, and you have to arrive at least 45 minutes before departure to be x-rayed and to provide documentary proof that you're not Muslim.

3. Nobody wants to chat or walk around and explore. It's so $$$ pricey that it's a snooty businessman's train and everybody has his face buried in The Economist.

These are minor gripes. I'm deeply grateful that SOMEBODY'S pushing the envelope for train travel. Big passenger airliners really suck, it's the most horrible way to get around the world anyone could imagine.

German maglev test track just had a bad, nasty accident, but it wasn't the technology, it was human screwup, somebody accidentally parked a maintenance truck on the trainpath.

I'm dying to ride the Shinkansen/Bullet Train. And I'd hop on the TGV again for a trip from Paris to Marseilles. Read below! The TGV has put some AIRLINES out of business!!! Yay!

~ ~ ~

Reuters / pickup on CNET
Tuesday 3 April 2007

France celebrates
train's new speed record
in Champagne

A French TGV train broke a world speed record on Tuesday as it hurtled down a newly built track at 357 miles per hour (574.8 kilometers per hour) in the country's Champagne region.

The special train called V150, an enhanced version of trains that will run on the Paris-Strasbourg line beginning June 10, has been preparing for the record run for weeks, and it carried journalists and other guests for the official attempt.

From about 236 mph, vibrations in the train became more and more noticeable. At 304 mph, passengers started to get slightly dizzy. At 335 mph, it became difficult to remain standing up despite the stability of the train.

At 354 mph, the driver wore a very big smile. "We had no worries--no birds, good weather, none of the troubles we had during the tests," said driver Eric Pieczak.

The absolute speed record for trains was set by a 'maglev' train in Japan, at 361 mph in 2003. However, those trains do not run on rails but glide on a magnetic field.

The previous speed record for a train running on rails was 320.2 mph, set in France in 1990.

Engineer Alstom, state railways group SNCF and track operator RFF had teamed up to show off French engineering and boost export prospects for French trains.

President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin both praised the new record.

"This record is a magnificent demonstration of France's great abilities in research and development and is further proof of the excellence of the French rail industry," Chirac said.

Philippe Mellier, the head of Alstom's transport division, said the commercial speed of Train a Grande Vitesse trains could reach 217-224 mph in the next five to six years. The latest TGVs run at 199 mph.

"An operator and a country that wants to launch high-speed rail, that is a lot of money at stake, they need to be able to do that in complete safety," he said.

Apart from France's TGV and Japan's Shinkansen, high-speed trains are also made by Germany's Siemens and Canada's Bombardier.

The V150 was made up of two normal cars that will run on the eastern TGV track, three double-decker carriages and three sets of motorized wheels. The train can develop over 25,000 horsepower, twice that of a conventional TGV.

The record was set at Le Chemin between Preny, near Metz in the east of France, and Bezannes near Reims at 1116 GMT.

The event run was broadcast live on television in France and Germany. The total record operation cost $40 million (30 million euros), shared by the three partners.

High-speed trains in France, as well as rail links to London, Brussels, Cologne and Amsterdam, are competing with plane travel, and several French regional airlines have gone out of business since the TGV started in 1981.

Story Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.


no so fast...
Reader post by: Tamagotchi Tamagotchi
Posted on: April 3, 2007, 1:08 PM PDT

The MAGLEV tested 3 years ago was not even close to reaching its top speed... and basically in its current configuration the sound barrier is it theoretical top speed.
Re: Not so fast...

Reader post by: chuck_whealton
Posted on: April 3, 2007, 3:25 PM PDT


In the pictures of the V150 they briefly mention that the technology behind the MAGLEV is different in that it's electromagnetic with the train never touching the track.

It sounds like they're both great pieces of machinery. I know I'd enjoy taking a ride in either of them (preferably both!).

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @

Readerpost by: jameskpolka
Posted on: April 4, 2007, 10:02 AM EDT

Who needs fast trains? USA! We're slowest!

The United States is pioneering the future of trains and currently holds the Slow Speed Train world record -- AMTRAK Train 66 from Washington DC Union Station to New Haven Connecticut, a 9 hour trip from 9pm to 6am the next morning, set in 2005 -- a feat accomplished in mid-summer with neither air-conditioning, food service, nor functioning toilets. I was privileged to be a passenger aboard this record-breaking run.

Copyright ©2007 CNET Networks, Inc. All rights reserved.


LarryB said...

It's true that the USA lacks the same innovative spirit the French demonstrated yesterday with their high-speed train. We don't even have good vibes about our fastest Acela train running between Washington, D.C., New York and Boston because it's thought by many to be expensive, unreliable and slow.

Speaking of maglev, it does have an uphill battle to counter the TGV speed news. But I think in the long run it can because in a head-to-head battle maglev wins every time if people give it a chance to be "in the mix."

Maglev's technical advantages over rail can be summed up in one word: performance. Acceleration, deceleration, banking, grade-climbing, environmental features (noise, vibration, electromagnetic fields), safety and comfort are all superior to "two-rail" systems. If you ask me.

For instance, I heard on CNN International television news that one of their reporters was riding on the train and he said the train needed 100 kilometers / 60+ miles to get up to its record speed. By contrast, Transrapid has been attaining 430 kilometers an hour, or 267 miles per hour -- which is 75% of this record speed -- in daily service in Shanghai for the past four years. Also, in a "special test" in November, 2003, the Shanghai Transrapid hit 500 km/h, or 311 mph -- or almost 90% or the TGV record. And please note that these maglev speeds were attained in a little over 8 miles (13 km) running distance on the Shanghai route alignment, needing only 13% of the run-up distance required for today's TGV record speed, and -- most importantly -- using normal, unmodified maglev vehicles.

Maglev has a chance against high-speed trains in the USA, at least, as long as people recognize that when they decide between the two systems, they should be thinking of their children and the world of 2030 to 2050, when congestion and general transportation woes in the country are much worse than they are now. TGV-style rail is at its peak of performance; maglev still has further evolutions to go and it already outshines rail. Shouldn't we choose the system with more technical performance, better environmental attributes and more potential for the long haul?

Larry Blow
MaglevTransport, Inc.

Abbas Halai said...

my rant on toronto transit.

Bob Merkin said...

Agence Vleeptron-Presse (AV-P) hereby appoints Abbas its Southern Central Canada Rapid Transit Correspondent! Totally cool rant!

The most vile achievement of the airlines -- particularly in the USA -- has been to kill off our wonderful passenger trains, and make people who love trains feel like low-rent declasse wino bums.

And now a bit about our new Comment Guest, LarryB, and his MaglevTransport:

MaglevTransport, Inc. is a consulting company specializing in magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology for passenger and cargo transportation. Its founder and president, Mr. Laurence E. (Larry) Blow, is a seasoned veteran, having first-hand experience planning and managing maglev projects since 1988. Working independently or using a network of expert associates, MaglevTransport, Inc. provides high-quality support services concerning maglev systems and potential applications, including:
check out his above URL for more more more about MAGLEV!

Larry ... I think I've fallen in love with you. You're a visionary, and with elementary wisdom and just a little luck, America just may get its innovative spirit back! All aboard the MagLev!!!

Acela's great!

When it works.

It would help a lot if it wasn't operated by AMTRAK, which is the government-airline conspiracy dedicated to killing passenger rail in America and making everyone hate trains. My experiences with VIA suggests that they're on the same mission.

Do Your Worst, AMTRAK! Starve me, freeze me, bake me, delay me, torment me, insult me, force me to use your "Alternative Ground Transportation" (AMTRAK's euphemism for a bus)! I'm going to keep riding trains as long as I can!

Robin said...

1- TGV = Train à grande vitesse, same meaning as the English HST = High Speed Train. Not 'Tres Grand Vitesse, whic means Very High Speed!

2- Acela, LAME, it's a european designed train, based on TGV technology that is severely limited due to a sub-standard quality of rail network, it has 180mph working capability but is lucky to do 70mph on most of the Northeastern Corridor.
Even uk can hit 140mph with it's retired trains on 30 year old track.