The trials of Alstom’s new TGV M in Czech Republic
Since 7 December 2022, the first TGV M test train from Alstom’s Avelia Horizon range has been at the Velim test site in the Czech Republic. This test campaign will last almost 6 months and is part of a long series of tests for this new generation of TGV. What are the different stages of the tests?
Pre-validation tests for the dynamic development of the TGV M are currently being carried out at Velim by Alstom with the support of the Test Agency of the SNCF Passenger Equipment Engineering Department. The Velim test site, equipped with high-performance infrastructure, consists of a ring that allows trains to run at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour. On its arrival at Velim, the TGV M began its tests and a gradual increase to this speed was successfully achieved in less than a week.
A very short time, well under the forecasts. Once this stage was over, the first phases of functional development tests began: braking without load and under load, pantograph tests, signalling tests (communication between the train and the ground infrastructure), etc.
Still in progress, this key sequence aims to ensure compliance with the safety requirements for railway operations and to submit the DAUTE, i.e. the Request for Authorisation to Run a Test Train on the National Railway Network.
This test campaign also allows SNCF Voyageurs drivers to take charge of the train and discover their working space. The driver’s cab was carefully consulted by the drivers to ensure that it met their needs in terms of comfort, space and ergonomics.
Decisive test campaigns for the admission of the train and its reliability
The TGV M test programme consists of the following phases:
Static and quasi-static tests
Each piece of equipment in the train was first tested individually to validate its own performance and service life. Then, once assembled, the test train was tested at Alstom’s Bellevue site at a standstill and then at a speed not exceeding 30 kilometres per hour. The operation of all the equipment integrated into the train was checked, as were the interactions of this equipment with each other.
The pre-validation tests are first carried out at the Velim site. The advantage of this is that it is a closed circuit on which traffic is less constrained than on the national network and, above all, without interaction with commercial traffic. The objectives are to validate the overall operation of the train, to remove the risks that appeared during the design phase in relation to the regulatory requirements and to adjust the numerical modelling accordingly. This phase takes place at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.
On the basis of this sequence, the tests will then continue with traffic on the national network. The overall operation of the train will be tested up to 320 kilometres per hour.
These consist of testing the operation by reproducing the configurations and contexts that the train set may encounter throughout the life of the train (degraded modes, weather conditions, singular points on the network, etc.). They will be carried out on the national network, with traffic up to 320 kilometres per hour by an accredited organisation. The admission tests will make it possible to obtain the Marketing Authorisation issued by the ERA (European Union Agency for Railways).
Over a long period prior to commercial operation, several trainsets will run on the entire national network to test the reliability of the train under real operating conditions. All functions will be tested, in particular those relating to passenger comfort.
At the end of all these tests, the TGV M will have benefited from a total of 350 weeks of testing and will have covered more than a million kilometres before the first customer experiences the SNCF Voyageurs high-speed train of tomorrow.
Climatic tests in Vienna in early March
Another locomotive dedicated to climatic testing will leave the Alstom site in La Rochelle in mid-February for the Vienna site in Austria. These tests are crucial in the current context of global warming/disruption. The aim is to evaluate energy efficiency. Indeed, the creation of optimal thermal comfort inside a vehicle leads to high energy consumption by the auxiliary systems (ventilation, air conditioning)
From the beginning of March, climate chamber tests will begin on site. They will be carried out over a temperature range of -20°C to +40°C.
This article first appeared on sister publication RailTech.be