Photo: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
French President Nicolas Sarkozy made a speech, all kinds of bigshots stood around smiling. The event had all the pomp and circumstance of royalty coming to town, but this isn't about some monarch; it's the unveiling of the extremely fast AGV (Automotrice Grande Vitesse), Alstom's new train.
It's such a big deal for Alstom because the company was this close to bankrupt not long ago. They even compares the AGV to Airbus' A380 in importance and technological innovation. So what's the big deal?
Photo: Alstom Transport/P Sautelet
The AGV can travel 1,000km (600 miles) in three hours, making it competitive with airplanes in many situations (especially if you take into account longer boarding times with planes). It has a top speed of 360km/h (224mph) and is powered by engines that are located under each carriage instead of locomotives at the ends, freeing up space for more passengers (between 300 and 700 seats, depending on configuration). The AGV will also be 20% more efficient than previous generation high-speed trains.
Italy's Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori (NTV) is said to have already bought 25 AGV trains for 650 million euros ($957.5 million). They are scheduled to start operation in 2011-2012. Germany's Deutsche Bahn AG might also order some AGV; it made a pan-European call for bids for 15 high-speed trains and the AGV could be what it's looking for. Also, France's Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais (SNCF) is thinking about renewing it's aging trains by 2013...
If we expect people to travel more efficiently, we need to give them attractive alternatives to the dirtier forms of transportation. This is a step in the right direction, and we hope that the US will pay attention.
See also: ::Spain's New High-Speed Rail Service Challenges the Airlines, ::Europe's High-Speed Train Networks Continue to Expand, ::Eurostar to Cut Emissions by 25% and Offset The Rest, ::Eurostar vs. Planes: It's Not Just About the Green, ::Taking the Train to New York: The Only Way to Fly