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European Railroad Discussion > French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered TGV


Date: 02/03/13 09:03
French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered TGV
Author: McKey

After the test drives of the two locomotives in 1955 things progressed quite slowly but steadily. The next logical step was the building of a test vehicle. The planning and perfecting of technologies and components took the whole 1960s. In 1967 the French started building the first test train of the intended two. In 1972 the prototype train was finally finished. It was named simply as TGV001.
The letter TGV are a shortening of French Train à Grande Vitesse, the high speed train, that was used here for the first time. The vehicle already had a locomotive at each end,
was shaped pretty much like the first generation TGV locomotives and had three intermediate trailers. According to the drawings one trailer was furnished for the fist class prototype seating, the middle one obviously for lab use and the trailer at the other end formed the second class. Everything was articulated together to achieve better train behavior. This articulation remains a well working feature of the TGV trailers even today.

Looking back in the 1960 there was no need to conserve energy as energy was cheap and plentiful. So the French wished to create a relatively lightweight solution to power their high speed train.
This lead to use of helicopter gas turbines at both ends locomotives. Turbines are both powerful, weigh little and as small in size are actually quite easy to fit into the locomotive body. The TGV001 had
plenty of power to to make its two locomotives and three intermediate cars fly: 7520 kW / 10 080 hp! And the test vehicle only weighted half of the first generation electric TGVs with
their 8 intermediate cars and 6450 kW / 8650 hp as a locomotives combined power. Looking at the first picture below you can actually see the TGV001 huge turbine air flow grilles on the right side of the locomotive body. Pay also attention to the structures of the test train. The production units built 6 years later looks a lot sturdier.

The turbine powered TGV001 was finished with poor timing: just one year before the oil crisis hit the world. Without crises who knows if we could have travelled with TGV sets free of
catenary wires. But the inevitable crises lead to use the same energy source as in Japan: electricity was the second best option, with abundance of knowledge of exploiting it on rails.
The era of the first generation TGVs as TGV-PSE started in 1978, when the first unit was accepted to regular use to be started in 1981. But that is another story and we have the
high speed rail line (LGV) considerations to look at before going forward with the train sets.

Pictures 1 and 2 are of the test train TGV001 (the first TGV with number 1), now located right next to the highway ramp in Strasbourg, France.
Of the excellent third picture we can thank Richard, who kindly provided it here so you can compare the details of the prototype and the first generation TGV-PSE, both wearing the same colors.








Date: 02/03/13 12:20
Re: French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered
Author: Steinzeit

McKey Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> After the test drives of the two locomotives in
> 1955 things progressed quite slowly but steadily.
> The next logical step was the building of a test
> vehicle. The planning and perfecting of
> technologies and components took the whole 1960s.
> In 1967 the French started building the first test
> train of the intended two. In 1972 the prototype
> train was finally finished. It was named simply as
> TGV001.
> The letter TGV are a shortening of French Train à
> Grande Vitesse, the high speed train, that was
> used here for the first time. The vehicle already
> had a locomotive at each end, .......
The TGV001 had plenty of power to to make its two locomotives and
> three intermediate cars fly: 7520 kW / 10 080 hp!
> ....
> The turbine powered TGV001 was finished with poor
> timing: just one year before the oil crisis hit
> the world. Without crises who knows if we could
> have travelled with TGV sets free of
> catenary wires. But the inevitable crises lead to
> use the same energy source as in Japan:
> electricity ....

I realize you're condensing a lot of history here, but let me make a few comments:

A. Actually this was the second use of the appellation TGV: The first use, as Turbine GV, was applied to the turbine powered X-2061 [ + X-4365 diesel ] 2 car reworked X-4300 set; this reached 230 kmh in 6/67. [ Ref Le Materiel Moteur SNCF, '71 edition ]. This pair later became the TGS set. TGV001 was also originally termed Turbine GV; it was convenient that 'Train' could later be substituted ! While I'm sure some preliminary work was obviously done, the formal PO for TGV001 wasn't issued until mid-1969.

B. The TGV power cars are not locomotives; they are "Motrices"; indeed the SNCF rosters for many years included the Z prefix. [ See for example Materiel Moteur 1998 edition and rosters in various VF's ]. I think the Z was lettered on the stock early on, but would have to check that; not sure about ZR.

C. Are you sure about your power outputs ? Voies Ferrees 35, "Dossier Turbotrain, Le TGV 001" gives a rating of 4400 kW [ 4 x 1100 ] for the second, more powerful turbines.

D. There were other reasons for the switch from gas turbine to electricity, and there was an intermediate stage of 'turbine + [ 25 kV ] electricity'. Do a TO search for my previous TGV posts for more info.

With best regards, SZ



Date: 02/04/13 00:26
Re: French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered
Author: McKey

Good discussion! That is why I posted this here...

Steinzeit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> I realize you're condensing a lot of history here,
> but let me make a few comments:


This was new to me, thanks for addition!

> A. Actually this was the second use of the
> appellation TGV: The first use, as Turbine GV,
> was applied to the turbine powered X-2061 [ +
> X-4365 diesel ] 2 car reworked X-4300 set; this
> reached 230 kmh in 6/67. [ Ref Le Materiel Moteur
> SNCF, '71 edition ]. This pair later became the
> TGS set. TGV001 was also originally termed
> Turbine GV; it was convenient that 'Train' could
> later be substituted ! While I'm sure some
> preliminary work was obviously done, the formal PO
> for TGV001 wasn't issued until mid-1969.


Well, this is all terminology, which I think does not change the fact that (almost*) all TGV power to this day is in the _locomotives_ at the ends. This regardless of what the French wish to call them. The locos are only semiattached to the set, very similarly MTAB IOREs running in pairs. When need be, the locomotives are changed / loaned from spares or other units.

*With an exception of the TGV-PSE and some plans that might become reality later.

> B. The TGV power cars are not locomotives;
> they are "Motrices"; indeed the SNCF rosters for
> many years included the Z prefix. [ See for
> example Materiel Moteur 1998 edition and rosters
> in various VF's ]. I think the Z was lettered on
> the stock early on, but would have to check that;
> not sure about ZR.


You are absolutely right, to condense the text I had to go with the first helicopter turbines power ratings. Which does not change the fact that there was _plenty_of_power_ even then, which was the idea I was trying to illustrate of the sentence up above. I noticed this subject already has too much text for trainorders readers for one thread, so I decided to publish the larger version with additional pictures and structuring at 4rail.net later.

> C. Are you sure about your power outputs ?
> Voies Ferrees 35, "Dossier Turbotrain, Le TGV 001"
> gives a rating of 4400 kW [ 4 x 1100 ] for the
> second, more powerful turbines.


Ok, I'll do this. I think the economy, not all prestige, still is the main driver here, to create a competitive solution the French needed to cut the costs and simplify structures. Only simple solutions can survive the harsh realities of the world with economy. Even without external competition.

Lately the French have actually said that if they had to provide the subsidies put into development and building of the TGV fleet today, they could not do it. While the service is running pretty much on its own now, this was not at all the case early on.

> D. There were other reasons for the switch from
> gas turbine to electricity, and there was an
> intermediate stage of 'turbine + [ 25 kV ]
> electricity'. Do a TO search for my previous TGV
> posts for more info.
>
> With best regards, SZ

Again, many thanks for adding the important omitted and missing parts for the story!



Date: 02/05/13 02:31
Re: French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered
Author: Focalplane

Although it is true that power delivered by catenary wire is a well tested technology, it also has its drawbacks.

Examples:

1. Ice on the wires, particularly in northeastern France. Eurostar trains are subject to a reduced speed limit during icy weather.

2. Electric storms.

3. More unusual, but it happened to train 5113 yesterday - according to SNCF at Roissy, the train (Bruxelles to Marseilles/Montpellier) was stopped by a tree branch on the wires in Belgium!!! I find this hard to believe, since trees are usually trimmed back from the tracks. The train was eventually cancelled. I arrived in Montpellier 3 hours late.



Date: 02/05/13 02:49
Re: French High Speed (2): Testing with Turbine Powered
Author: McKey

Sorry to hear about your delay due to tree incident...and how unusual for just that country...

Thank you for reminding about the electric storms. I wonder, how do the Germans manage their 330 km/h running, they even have slightly less kilovoltage on lines? Going north it is not unusual to see trains running with a blindingly bright light where the pantograph meets the icy wire. I suppose at lower speed of up to 220 km/h / 137 mph it is not that much of a concern though.



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