SNCF’s new Oxygène train sets begin test phase
SNCF will welcome new rolling stock by 2026. These new trains will replace the forty-year-old Corail train sets on the Paris – Clermont-Ferrand line and the Paris – Orléans – Limoges – Toulouse. Like many of its predecessors, the Oxygène train ordered by SNCF will be tested over the next few days on the Velim circuit in the Czech Republic.
Oxygène, formerly known as the Confort200, is a medium and long-distance multiple unit (AMLD) built by Spanish manufacturer CAF and its subsidiary CAF France of Bagnères-de-Bigorre. The contract signed in 2019 covers an order for 28 trainsets but also includes optional tranches of up to 75 trainsets. SNCF recently exercised an option for 20 additional trains under this framework agreement for the Bordeaux – Toulouse – Montpellier – Marseille line.
Before rolling stock can be approved for commercial operation, it has to undergo a significant number of tests including a traction/braking performance test. These include a disturbance currents test, a safety equipment test, a vibration comfort test, and a tympanic comfort test, among others.
Maintenance facilities are being adapted to accommodate the new trains. The Technicentre Sud-Est Européen at Villeneuve-Saint-Georges will be the main maintenance centre, while the Technicentre Paris-Austerlitz will be equipped with a new workshop and a multi-service building. In the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, the Clermont-Ferrand storage site is undergoing work, with the installation of a new washing machine and track improvements. Similarly, the Brive-la-Gaillarde storage site in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region will be upgraded in 2023, with work planned on the tracks and platforms.
Financing and modernising the network
The government is investing 800 million euros in the Trains d’Équilibre du Territoire (TET) network. 700 million euros will be used to purchase 28 new trains, entirely financed by the State. In addition, 100 million euros, also funded by the State, will be used to develop maintenance facilities at Paris-Austerlitz, Villeneuve-Saint-Georges, Clermont-Ferrand, Brive-La-Gaillarde and Toulouse.
SNCF Réseau and the French government are investing nearly 3 billion euros in infrastructure modernisation. On the Paris-Limoges-Toulouse line, 2 billion euros have been earmarked, while 1 billion euros have been allocated to the Paris-Clermont line. These investments will make it possible to accommodate the new trains and increase their speed.
On the Paris-Limoges-Toulouse line, a 385 million euro project, two-thirds of which is funded by the State, is planned. On the Paris-Clermont-Ferrand line, a 130 million euro project is financed two-thirds by the State and one-third by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. A further 26 million euros are earmarked for upgrading the electrical installations between Melun and Morêt.