New Delhi: The Modi government has given an in-principle nod for Madrid-based locomotive-maker Talgo to undertake trial runs of its lighter and faster trains that could cut travel time between Mumbai and Delhi from 17 hours to 12 hours without overhauling India’s ageing rail tracks.
Talgo Chief Executive Officer Jose Maria Oriol, who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, told that they are hopeful of bringing their trial train to India by October or early November at their own cost and risk to demonstrate its advantages. A formal nod is all that is awaited to start the process for shipping the train from Spain to India.
“Most of the technical part has been solved, now it is the practical part of doing it. Up to now, we have an informal approval. What we need is a piece of paper to say: go ahead. I don’t think it would take too long after this set of meetings,” Oriol told, stressing that the company would bear the costs to bring the train from Spain with its technicians for the test runs.
The Railways’ management as well as the ‘political authorities’ are enthusiastic about Talgo’s technology and officials have already seen its trains at work in earlier visits to Spain. “Now they want to see it at work in India,” he said.
“Of the 60,000 km of railway tracks in India, some would be upgraded, but most would remain as it is. That’s where we can make a difference, by increasing the speed of the train without changing the track infrastructure,” Oriol said about the firm’s passenger trains that can run from 160 kilometres to 220 km an hour and are being used across the world on legacy rail tracks, including several routes in central Asia and the US.
Enthused by Indian Railways’ ambitious plan to invest $125 billion, Talgo is eager to set up a manufacturing hub in India to tap the Indian and Asia-Pacific market using the recently opened window for 100% FDI in the sector.
With revenues of around $500 million expected this year, the Madrid Stock Exchange-listed Talgo is excited about the Modi government’s approach to infrastructure as it is focused on delivering outcomes on the ground soon rather than just pursuing expensive aspirations like bullet trains. “I see a willingness to invest and improve. I don’t know how long it will take. Whenever you deal with politicians, whether it is India or Spain or Italy, you have to be patient.
But in this case, knowing that this government is keen to show some improvements in services to the citizens, it is looking to do that in a rather short time period,” Oriol said. Oriol, who had earlier met railway minister Suresh Prabhu, said the firm is separately bidding for a train set contract put out by the Railways and awaiting other contracts.
While it is open to forming a joint venture or entering the country on its own for locomotive manufacturing, Talgo already has a commercial office functioning in India for four years to explore opportunities in India and the Asia-Pacific.
It has used the time to also identify a potential supply chain of tier-I and tier-II vendors that can help it localise its product swiftly once it sets up shop. “We are pleased to say that we can find most of the components we need at a very attractive cost here.
We have also sub-contracted design and development to a lot of Indian engineers here and they are very skillful at a very attractive price,” Oriol added. “We are also looking at opportunities in China, Japan, Malaysia. So having a presence in India will help us tap those markets too, especially with the free trade agreements it has…so we would very much like to establish in India not just for the domestic market but for exports also,” he added.
TALGO (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol, Goicoechea-Oriol light articulated train), Alejandro Goicoechea and José Luis Oriol being the founders of the company.
Talgo Patents S.A. was first incorporated in 1942.
In March 2007 Talgo sold its Finnish rolling stock manufacturing subsidiary Talgo Oy to its local management and other Finnish investors. The company, which Talgo had owned for only seven years, reverted to its previous name of Transtech Oy. The company spends 10 to 12 percent of revenues on research and development, but the main revenue source is the Spanish railway operator Renfe.
Talgo made an initial public offering on the Bolsa de Madrid in May 2015. The IPO valued the company at €1.27 billion.
Talgo trains are best known for their unconventional articulated railway passenger car that uses a type similar to the Jacobs bogie that Talgo patented in 1941. The wheels are mounted in pairs but not joined by an axle and the bogies are shared between coaches rather than underneath individual coaches. This allows a railway car to take a turn at higher speed with less swaying. As the coaches are not mounted directly onto wheel bogies, the coaches are more easily insulated from track noise. Talgo trains fitted with variable gauge axles can change rail gauge – for instance at the 1,668 mmIberian gauge/1,435 mm standard gauge at the Spanish-French border interchange.
Since the introduction of the Talgo Pendular in 1980, the train tilts naturally inwards on curves, allowing it to run faster on curves without causing discomfort to passengers. The carriage tilting system pivots around the top of the suspension columns, which has the effect of partially cancelling out the effects of the lateral acceleration when cornering.
Talgo trains are divided into a number of generations. They come in both locomotive hauled and self-propelled versions.
The Talgo I was built in 1942 in Spain. The coaches were built at the “Hijos de Juan Garay” workshop in Oñati and thelocomotive was built at the workshops of the “Compañia de Norte” in Valladolid. It was built as a prototype, and it was used to set several railroad speed records. The first test run occurred between Madrid and Guadalajara, Castile-La Mancha in October of 1942.
Talgo II coaches and locomotives were first built in 1950 at the American Car and Foundry Company (ACF) works in the United States under the direction of Spanish engineers, and entered service on the Rock Island Line, servicing the Jet Rocket train, between Chicago and Peoria, Illinois. One was also trialed on the New York Central Railroad until 1958 but saw little success. Talgos were also built for the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad for its “John Quincy Adams” train from (New York City to Boston, Massachusetts), and the Boston and Maine Railroad for its “Speed Merchant” train, running between (Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine). Soon afterwards, Talgo II trains began running in Spain, and were successfully operated until 1972.
Talgo III coaches and locomotives entered service in 1964, introducing longer cars and easy directional reversibility of the cars. The Talgo III/RD was equipped with variable gauge axles, and this permitted the introduction, on 1 June 1969, of the first through train between Madrid and Paris (the new service being designated Puerta del Sol), as well as between Barcelona and Geneva (the Catalan Talgo), despite the difference in rail gauge. The same equipment was used for the Barcelona Talgo, which began operation on 26 May 1974 as the first-ever through train service between Barcelona and Paris.
The Talgo Pendular (Talgo IV and Talgo V, also VI & Talgo 200 or 6th generation), introduced in 1980, created the “natural tilting” train, using a passive system that tilts the carriages with no need for electronic sensors or hydraulic equipment. The wheels are mounted on monoaxles between the carriages, and sitting on top of the monoaxles are suspension columns. The carriages are attached to the top of the suspension columns and swing outwards as the train goes through a curve.
In 1988, a Talgo Pendular was used on trials for Amtrak on the Boston-New York corridor in the United States and onDeutsche Bahn lines in Germany. Trial commercial services with Talgo cars in the US commenced in 1994 between Seattle and Portland, and from 1998 different trains have been used on the Amtrak Cascades services from Vancouver, British Columbia south to Seattle, Washington, continuing south via Portland, Oregon to Eugene, Oregon. Five Talgo IV trains were in use in Argentina on the General Roca Railway, however they have since been replaced by CNR Dalian rolling stock and their future is uncertain as of 2015.
Talgo 200 series trains are also in use in Kazakhstan for the overnight train Almaty–Astana.
The Talgo VII introduced beginning in 2000 is used as a locomotive-pulled train set as well as intermediate cars for the multiple units Talgo 250, Talgo 350 and Talgo XXI. The carriages are similar to the Talgo Pendular type but have an air-controlled hydraulic brake system and power supply from head end power instead of diesel engine-generators in the end cars. Talgo VII trains have cars with two pairs of wheels in the middle rather than at one end.
The Series 8 passenger cars are similar to the Series VII cars, but are designed for the North American market. Talgo made an agreement in 2009 to build a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin which would initially supply two 14-car trainsets for the Amtrak Hiawatha Service. The company expressed hope the plant would later be used to build trains for other U.S. rail projects.
Early in 2010, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced that it had negotiated the purchase of two 13-car trainsets for use in the Pacific Northwest rail corridor between Eugene and Vancouver, British Columbia. These trainsets were also manufactured in Wisconsin, and were delivered in 2013. The sets are currently operating in the “Cascades” corridor in the Pacific Northwest. They have been integrated with the five existing sets in regular service. The Series 8 trains offer passengers many modern amenities including high speed Wi-Fi, reclining seats and a full service bistro and lounge car.
The Talgo 250 is a dual voltage electric train (AC/DC) equipped with variable gauge axles. This allows the units to be used on high-speed lines and on conventional broad gauge lines. A Talgo 250 train consists of two power cars and 11 Talgo VII intermediate coaches. This class was developed for RENFE (classed as S-130). One trainset was involved in the Santiago de Compostela accident on 24 July 2013.
The Uzbekistan Railways ordered two Talgo 250 sets of a Russian gauge version in 2009. The first set arrived at Tashkent in July 2011.
Talgo 250 Hybrid
The Talgo 250 Hybrid is a dual-voltage dual-power train equipped with variable gauge axles. The train is therefore also able to operate on non-electrified lines. A Talgo 250 Hybrid train consists of two power cars, two technical end coaches and nine Talgo VII intermediate coaches. The trains were developed for RENFE and classed initially as S-130H, later as S-730). They are rebuilt from existing Talgo 250 trains.
The Talgo 350 entered service as the RENFE AVE Class 102 marking the company’s entry into the high-speed train manufacturing market. Tests with the prototype commenced in 1994, and Talgo 350 trains have been operating at a top commercial speed of 330 km/h on the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valladolid lines since 22 December 2007. This series of trains is designed to reach a speed of 350 km/h (220 mph), although present lines and commercial services limit the speed to 330 km/h (205 mph). The train consists of two power cars and Talgo VII intermediate cars with improved brakes and additional primary suspension.
Talgo XXI is a project for a high speed diesel-powered train, that operates in push-pull with one or two power cars and Talgo VII intermediate cars. The North American version has four-axle power cars in compliance with United States FRA regulations. Only one train in compliance with European UIC standards has been built to date. Talgo reported that the Talgo XXI attained 256 km/h on the Olmedo-Medina del Campo high speed experimental line on 9 July 2002, which led to a claim for the world speed record for a diesel train. However, this claim was never proven. After the test runs the train was sold to the Spanish infrastructure authority ADIF as a measuring train for high speed lines.
Talgo is developing a train that is currently in the concept stage, known as “AVRIL” (Alta Velocidad Rueda Independiente Ligero — Light High-Speed Independent Wheel), intended for speeds of 380 kilometres per hour (240 mph). The system will use underfloor traction in the front and rear vehicles, with the intermediate carriages having the Talgo Pendular system (which cannot use motored axles on the axles corresponding to the system).
Variable Gauge Axles (VGA)
In addition to the multiple units with Variable Gauge Axles, Talgo built in 2005 a prototype of a VGA locomotive (the L-9202, TRAV-CA, 130-901 or Virgen del Buen Camino). The train is intended to have a top speed of 380 km/h (236 mph). It will have front and rear power cars containing under-floor traction equipment, and 12 trailer cars in between the power cars, giving a total seating capacity comparable to those of an Electric Multiple Unit rather than a locomotive-hauled train. The trailer cars will have an unusually short length of 13 m (42 ft 8 in). Other details:
- There will be a version with a width of 2.9 m (9 ft 6 in) and an extra-large version 3.2 m (10 ft 6 in) enabling a 2+3 seating configuration in standard class rows and a capacity of up to 600 seats in a 200 m (656 ft 2 in) trainset.
- Versions for fixed gauge (1,435 mm, 1,520 mm or 1,668 mm) and variable gauge are foreseen.
- Traction system designed for 4 tensions (25 kV/50 Hz; 15 kV/16.7 Hz; 3kV DC; 1.5 kV DC)
Talgo presented the Avril concept at the InnoTrans fair in Berlin in September 2010. Talgo has provided additional information to the end of 2010.