[EAS] 352mph Train & its Technology

Peter J. Kindlmann pjk at design.eng.yale.edu
Fri Apr 6 16:52:32 EDT 2007

Dear Colleagues -

You probably heard about the record earlier this 
week of a TGV reaching 352mph. That's almost Mach 

Below follows a nice set of links on a subject 
very much non-nanotechnology and not much evident 
in mechanical and electrical engineering 
curricula these days, even though efficient 
transport is arguably one of the most important 
technological themes of our time.  Its very 
different design methodologies have their own 
states-of-the-art, and provide a worthwhile 
contrast in educational perspective.

Particularly interesting to me was the "Under The 
Hood" page at 
with its description of the 4400kW power inverter 
electronics driving four true synchronous 
traction motors developing 1100kW (about 1500hp) 
each. Alas, my past power inverter involvements 
never went beyond 400kW.

pages are also worth a visit by the technically 


(from The Scout Report -- April 6, 2007)

High-speed train sets new speed record in France
French set new rail speed record

Aboard the fastest TGV in the world

French Excellence in Very High Speed Rail: Alstom, RFF, SNCF [Macromedia
Flash Player]

"Under the Hood" of a TGV

TGV Historic Photos

The True Experiences of Officer Harold Sewell [Real Player]

In many parts of the world, trains whisk passengers from city to city
quickly. This past Tuesday, a high-speed train moved a group of people very
quickly through the French countryside, and along the way, it broke the
world speed record for conventional rail trains. Powered by two engines,
this TGV (an acronym for "high-speed train" in French), reached 357.2 miles
per hour at one point, effectively breaking the previous TGV record set in
1990.  Along the way, a television crew caught the train drivers smiling as
they realized they had broken the record, and spectators cheered and clapped
as the train rushed by.  TGV trains have been in service since 1981, and
they generally travel at about 186 miles per hour, but starting in June they
will be allowed to travel at approximately 200 miles per hour on the Paris
to Strasbourg line. After the demonstration was completed, French President
Jacques Chirac commented, ìEconomically efficient and respectful of the
environment, the TGV is a major asset in efforts to ensure sustainable
development in transport.î For the future, the hope is that TGV trains will
be purchased in China, South Korea, Taiwan, and potentially California.

The first link for visitors leads to a piece from the BBC News about the
recent speed record, complete with footage of the trip. The second link will
lead users to an article from the Times' Ben Webster, who was onboard during
Tuesday's record-setting trip. Moving along, the third link leads to the
webpage created by the trainís manufacturers (the Alstom company) that
provides a behind-the-scenes video, safety information, and a glimpse into
the train's workings. For those who love to know about the operations of
these mighty machines, the fourth link will be a real find. Offered by
TrainWeb, this site details the various workings of the TGV's power
electronics, including the main transformer and the thyristor controlled
rectifier-bridge. The fifth link whisks users away to a very short film from
1938 that tells how one brave officer saved a train from certain disaster
with the use of a mere flashlight. The trusty flashlight happened to be
powered by Eveready batteries, and the Eveready Corporation sponsored the
film. Finally, the last link leads to a nice online collection of different
TGV trains in action from the past several decades.

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