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European Railroad Discussion > Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs


Date: 01/14/20 17:42
Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: F7sForever

I have raved before on this site about France's TGV (Train a Grande Vitesse, or High Speed Train) network. I work in passenger rail here in the US, and Europe's rail system blows my mind. I've covered the Duplex bilevel trains here before, but wanted to circle back and talk a bit about spotting features on the single level trains that got the system going. SNCF hasn't ordered a single level TGV since the 1990s, when the duplex trains started coming online. As the system has grown, the volume of the Duplex models has had a huge impact on ridership. And it's crystal clear that the future of France's high speed network has two levels. But there are still a lot of single level models floating around, and I expect that there will be for quite some time to come.

The naming scheme for the single level TGVs is unique, but in the perspective of when they were built, it makes a little sense: Most initial TGV trains were ordered in conjunction with the opening of new lines. As the network matured, the technology was also coming of age, so each line's trains were a little different. The current philosophy for SNCF is a little more direct, taking a network approach to the equipment, and ordering trains that can largely serve anywhere. But I am getting ahead of myself. There are four types of single level passenger TGV: PSE, Atlantique, POS, and Reseau. Examples of all four remain. Photos of each will follow, along with some of the info I have learned about them.

Photo 1: The TGV PSE, or Paris-Sud Est (Paris-South East) is the original type of TGV. Built by Alstom between 1978 and 1985, they were distinctive because of their orange color. A total of 109 were built, in dual and triple voltage configrations. The easiest way to tell them from any others is the two step  roofline on the power cars. The PSE has a total of ten coaches, including five second-class cars, a bar, and four first class cars. They seat 350 passengers. They were built for the first high speed line (SNCF calls them Lignies a Grandes Vitesses, or LGVs), the LGV Sud Est, which linked Paris and Lyon, France's first and third largest cities. (The LGV Sud Est was eventually extended in two parts, including the LGV Med to connect to France's second largest city, Marseille, on the Mediterranean coast.) Photo at Paris Gare du Nord, Nov. 2019.

Photo 2: The very first photo I ever took of a TGV wasn't all that great. I was walking across a road bridge looking at the tracks over Gare du Nord when this set left the station. I snapped a photo and walked on. I am going to be completely honest: I was certain that the original TGVs had all been retired. It wasn't until looking at the photos after I returned home that I realized what I had photographed. That was intriguing enough that I dedided I needed to get off my butt and learn what I was looking at. The PSEs were refurbished around 2000, and lost their distinctive orange color scheme. (Sadly.) They are getting additional refurbishments now, and all three sets that I have seen are in Carmillion paint. I understand that there are around 30 sets remaining, mostly serving lighter volume routes out of Gare du Nord into Northern France. Photo north of Paris Gare du Nord, Sept. 2017.

Photo 3: The TGV Atlantique was built for the second line opened, the LGV Atlantique, which connects Paris and lines toward the Atlantic coast, with two branches to Le Mans and Tours. The lines have been extended further to Bordeaux and Rennes. A total of 105 Atlantique sets were built between 1988 and 1991, and represent a reasonable evolution in the design. Like the PSE, the Atlantique has 10 carriages, with a 458 passenger capacity.

More photos to come.








Date: 01/14/20 18:00
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: F7sForever

Photo 4: Another Atlantique, number 359, at Paris Gare Montparnasse, where the Atlantique fleet is based. The Atlantique are being replaced by Duplexes in l'Ocean service on the LGV Atlantique and its extensions. So the future of the second generation TGVs is up in the air. One proposal I have read suggests using them to offset older locomotive-hauled trains on lighter density lines.

Photo 5: The third (and technically final) version of the single level TGV built was the TGV Reseau, reseau being the French word for "network." They represent a significant shift in the strategy from SNCF toward a more unified fleet of TGVs that could operate anywhere in the network. This allowed for a lot of standardization of parts and maintenance depots. Appearance-wise, the Reseau is similar to the Atlantique, with a similar shape to the power cars, and similar shape to the aerodynamic shroud on the power cars. The biggest difference is a drop in car count, from 10 to eight. The Reseau was built from 1992 to 1996, and true to their name, they can be found all over the system today.

Photo 6: The Reseau sets were refurbished in the latter half of the 2000s with new interiors designed by fashion designer Christian Lacroix. The look is distinctive, as shown by this second class car that I rode in from Strasbourg to Paris in Sept. 2017. 








Date: 01/14/20 18:20
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: F7sForever

Photo 7: A Reseau set at Gare du Strasbourg in eastern France in Oct. 2017. Like virtually everything else, the Reseau trains are getting Carmillion paint at a surprising pace. They are also not immune from the controversial inOui branding, though I don't know how that has affected the interior decor.

Photo 8: So I said that the Reseau was the last single level TGV built, and technically that is correct. But there has been another iteration. The POS, or Paris-Ostfrankreich-Suddeutchland (Paris-Eastern France-Southern Germany) sets were built using Reseau trailers that had been sidelined while SNCF and Alstom rushed the first 19 of a new generation of TGV Duplex into service using refurbished Reseau power cars to fill high demand. The 19 POS sets were being prepared for service over the new LGV Est to Strasbourg and into Germany. They received the power cars initially planned for what is now known as the Reseau Duplex trains, which allowed them to cover the 320kmph maximum speed on the LGV Est. Pretty quickly, it was apparent that the line was going to require Duplex trains as well, so the POS sets were offset and rebranded for Lyria service between Paris and Switzerland. They still operate out of Gare de Lyon on Swiss routes, but have been rebranded for inOui service, while new EuroDuplex trains carry the Lyria brand. Photo at Gare de Lyon, Nov. 2019.

Photo 9: I peeked through the windows of a POS set, and found that they also carried the Lacroix interiors. Since I never photographed the first class accommodation on the Reseau set that I rode two years before, I snapped a photo of the POS first class section through the window as it sat on the platform.


 








Date: 01/14/20 18:33
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: F7sForever

Photo 10: A TGV POS departing Gare de Lyon.

Photo 11: Another version of single level TGV no longer on the roster is the TMST. A number of them were built for Eurostar service between Paris and London (where several still run) as well as domestic service around London. When the London trains were withdrawn, some of them served SNCF for a short while. They have all since been retired.

Photo 12: We've also talked about the Reseau-based Thalys PBA trains, the first of which were actually part of the Reseau fleet. They are fairly identical to the Reseau sets, and feature the same interior layout. The later PBKA uses the same car design with different power cars.

I hope this has been a helpful look at the various forms of single level TGV. There is one type that I haven't had the pleasure of seeing: the Reseau-based IRIS train, which is used as a high speed inspection train for the track structure and the catenary, and runs the entire system. I did see it while I was in Paris in November, but wasn't prepared to take a photo. There's also one version of single level TGV that is no longer with us, and that was the PSE-based La Poste mail trains. They were retired mainly because their small doors made it impossible to use the current palette and container arrangement that makes trucks and other methods more versatile. The La Poste sets were withdrawn from service in 2015, and most have been scrapped, though a couple of the power cars were retained by SNCF to augment the PSE trains.

Enjoy!

Jody



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/14/20 19:14 by F7sForever.








Date: 01/14/20 21:16
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: LeoBird

Jody, many thanks for this outstanding series. I will be in Spain in September and will do my best emulate your efforts but I doubt I will able to match them.

Leo



Date: 01/15/20 04:25
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: DavidP

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>
> Photo 11: Another version of single level TGV no
> longer on the roster is the TMST. A number of them
> were built for Eurostar service between Paris and
> London (where several still run) as well as
> domestic service around London. When the London
> trains were withdrawn, some of them served SNCF
> for a short while. They have all since been
> retired.
>
I think you’re referring to the “north of London” Eurostar sets that were leased to SNCF for a while.  These were shorter versions of the eighteen car trains originally deployed on the cross-Channel routes out of Waterloo International.  Their intended use was to provide service between Paris/Brussels and cities on the East and West Coast mainlines in the UK, employing one of the radial routes to bypass London.  However, like the planned overnight channel tunnel services, which yielded VIA Rail’s Renaissance Fleet, changes in UK government financing of the railways resulted in the service never launching.  After several years in storage, the sets were leased for Paris - Lille domestic service.  They kept their Eurostar livery, but at least the few I saw had the Eurostar logos replaced with SNCF decals.  Other members of the class saw UK domestic service between Kings Cross and Leeds, repainted dark blue and branded “White Rose” by the West Coast operator.

Dave



Date: 01/15/20 07:21
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: darkcloud

LeoBird Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Jody, many thanks for this outstanding series.


Agreed.



Date: 01/15/20 15:35
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: 86235

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Photo 11: Another version of single level TGV no
> longer on the roster is the TMST. A number of them
> were built for Eurostar service between Paris and
> London (where several still run) as well as
> domestic service around London. When the London
> trains were withdrawn, some of them served SNCF
> for a short while. They have all since been
> retired.

None were built for domestic service, they were for cross channel services starting at regional centres away from London. Over here they were dubbed NoL (North of London) sets, they were shorter than standard Eurostar sets. Like the Nightstar overnight trains it soon became clear that the North of London services would never be financially viable and so they were dropped, but not before a number of infrastructure upgrades had been completed to accommodate them. For a few years the East Coast franchise, GNER, used the ex-NoL sets to boost London to Leeds and York services, but they were always hindered by power supply issues between King's Cross and Peterborough. Here's one in GNER finery back in August 2005.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/15/20 15:39 by 86235.




Date: 01/16/20 13:26
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: F7sForever

Thanks to both Dave and 86235 for the correction/clarification regarding the TMST North of London sets. I didn't realize that they were shorter distance cross-channel service, and the "North of London" monicker never rings the "Channel Tunnel" bell in my head, as it is east and south of London. So I am easily confused. :)

I admit also to having rushed through the last set of entires because I was supposed to be making dinner, and I meant to circle back and never did. But the TGV TMST shown in the phtoto was supposed to be representative, as they were gone from SNCF before I ever got there.

Thanks again, everyone.

Jody



Date: 01/16/20 13:47
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: SOO6617

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> They still operate
> out of Gare de Lyon on Swiss routes, but have been
> rebranded for inOui service, 

The POS sets no longer carry the Lyria branding becausee they no longer operate into Switzerland. Just not enough capacity onboard. All have been replaced with Euroduplex sets last fall.



Date: 01/18/20 10:27
Re: Named for Where They Go: Single Level TGVs
Author: 86235

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Thanks to both Dave and 86235 for the
> correction/clarification regarding the TMST North
> of London sets. I didn't realize that they were
> shorter distance cross-channel service, and the
> "North of London" monicker never rings the
> "Channel Tunnel" bell in my head, as it is east
> and south of London. So I am easily confused. :)
>
> I admit also to having rushed through the last set
> of entires because I was supposed to be making
> dinner, and I meant to circle back and never did.
> But the TGV TMST shown in the phtoto was supposed
> to be representative, as they were gone from SNCF
> before I ever got there.
>
> Thanks again, everyone.
>
> Jody

Another unique feature of the TMST and the NoL sets was their third rail capability. Running off the 750v DC supply limited their top speed to 100 mph and their acceleration was pretty poor, old style 90 mph slam door EMUs were forever catching them up after signal checks.




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