The TGV

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categorie: Geografie

nota: 10.00

nivel: Liceu

The TGV program was launched in the late 1960s. In its early stages, the program was considered a technological dead end. Conventional wisdom at the time held that steel wheel on steel rail technology had been explored and understood to its fullest, and it was time to move on to more innovative technologies like magnetic levitation and jet-powered hovertrains. As a result, the project did not orig[...]
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The TGV program was launched in the late 1960s. In its early stages, the program was considered a technological dead end. Conventional wisdom at the time held that steel wheel on steel rail technology had been explored and understood to its fullest, and it was time to move on to more innovative technologies like magnetic levitation and jet-powered hovertrains. As a result, the project did not originally receive any government funding.

SNCF's idea for the TGV was to develop a high speed rail system that remained compatible with the existing railway infrastructure. This had the important benefit of allowing high speed trains to use existing facilities in the heart of many cities, where building any new tracks or stations would have been prohibitively expensive. Another advantage was the possibility of running TGV trains to many destinations over existing trackage, after a high speed dash on a dedicated trunk line. Clark Kent on conventional track, and Superman on special dedicated track. Finally, having a high speed rail system that fully integrates into the existing rail network makes it possible to build new high speed lines gradually, opening them section by section.

images/proto/tgv001vsg.jpgThe TGV 001 (photo by Jean-Paul Lescat) was powered by a gas turbine, and on 8 December 1972, it set the world speed record for a train in autonomous traction, at 318 km/h (198 mph). This record still stands, 23 years later. (The world's fastest diesel train is a Russian TEP80 locomotive, with 273 km/h (147 mph). The TGV 001 made more than 175 runs at speeds in excess of 300 km/h (186 mph) and along with other prototype trains provided valuable engineering data for the development of the production TGV. A more detailed history can be found elsewhere in these pages.

A completely new line was built beginning in the late seventies, running from Paris most of the way to Lyon. On 27 September 1981, the first section of the line was opened to revenue service by president Francois Mitterrand, and the streamlined, bright orange trains became instant celebrities. It helped that just a few months before, one of the new trainsets had smashed the world speed record (held since 1955 by a pair of French electric locomotives) with a run at 380 km/h (236 mph).
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