Development of the TGV

Development Of The TGV

Development of the TGV

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The idea of a high-speed train in France was born about twenty years before the first TGVs entered service. At that time, about 1960, a radical new concept was thought up; combining very high speeds and steep grades would allow a railway to follow the contours of existing terrain, like a gentle roller coaster. Instead of one or two percent grades which would be considered steep in normal applications, grades up to four percent would be feasible, thus allowing more flexible (and cheaper) routing of new lines. Over the next several years, this very general idea gave rise to a variety of high speed transportation concepts, which tended to move away from conventional "wheel on rail" vehicles. Indeed, the French government at the time favoured more "modern" air-cushioned or maglev trains, such as Bertin's Aérotrain; Steel wheel on rail was considered a dead-end technology. Simultaneously, SNCF (the French national railways) was trying to raise the speeds of conventional trains into the range 180 to 200 km/h (110 to 125 mph) for non-electrified sections, by using gas turbines for propulsion. Energy was reasonably cheap in those years, and gas turbines (originally designed for helicopters) were a compact and efficient way to fulfil requirements for more power. Following on the TGS prototype in 1967, SNCF introduced gas turbine propulsion with the ETG (Elément à Turbine à Gaz, or Gas Turbine Unit) turbotrains in Paris - Cherbourg service, in...
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