HS2 ‘reference train’ special (part 1)
HS2 ‘reference train’ is no myth: first ones now in service — in Italy
Alan Marshall (‘Editorial Director of Railnews, the national newspaper for the railway industry’ ) explains how the 360km/h (225mph) trains invisaged to run on HS2 in 14 years time are already in service today and how they are much more efficient than previous High-Speed trains.
ON current plans, the first stage of HS2 is still 14 years away from completion. But the type of train for which it is being designed is a reality — now — and a 25-strong fleet of them are going into service during the rest of this year in Italy.
Known as .Italos, the new trains are the first production models of Alstom’s Automotrice à Grande Vitesse (AGV) with a designed top speed of 360km/h (225mph). Alstom says: “.Italo is a new-generation Ultra High Speed train, designed according to the latest European interoperability standards, and meets all European and Italian environmental and safety regulations.
“The drive system that gives the train its maximum speed of 360 km/h played a key role in the Alstom train that on 3 April 2007 broke the world rail speed record by running at 574.8km/h (357.2 mph).”
Close-up view of an .Italo aero-dynamic AGV driving cab. [Photo: Alstom]
One of the truly-amazing features of the AGV is that — thanks to its powerful drive motors being distributed along the trains, lighter weight due to the use of modern construction techniques, and its aerodynamics — it uses no more energy (nor generates any more carbon dioxide) per seat at 300km/h (186 mph) than a Virgin tilting Pendolino (based on an earlier Alstom design) running at only 200km/h (125 mph) on Britain’s West Coast Main Line. It is perhaps appropriate that such a very fast train should now be entering service
with a private train company that has been largely financed by Ferrari, whose chairman Luca Cordero di Montezemolo also heads NTV (Nuovo Trasporto 2 Viaggiatori) — and it explains why the new train fleet is finished externally in Ferrarired livery.
Finished in Ferrari red livery, three .Italo AGVs pose outside their maintenance depot [Photo: Alstom]
The first AGVs started service at the end of April 2012 between Rome and Naples, competing with the Italian State-owned Trenitalia train services.