For Journalists & Press

FRENCH RAILROADS/ALSTOM BREAK WORLD RAIL SPEED RECORD

White Plains, NY, April 3, 2007 - A specially-modified French high-speed train (TGV*) today broke the world rail speed record**, traveling at 357 mph on a section of new high-speed track in eastern France. The previous record, set by the French in 1990, was 320 mph.

The record-setting double-decker trainset, dubbed V150 (for the goal of traveling at 150 meters/second or 335.5 mph) carrying VIPs and journalists, was an enhanced version of the equipment that will run on the new TGV East line, which opens for commercial service on June 10 this year.

Normal service at 199 mph

Normal service on TGV East will be at 199 mph (320 km/hr), cutting travel time by one-third to one-half of the current travel times and linking Paris to the Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace regions of France, as well as new direct connections to Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Tickets and schedules for TGV East are available April 10 at www.raileurope.com (in Canada www.raileurope.ca ).

Modifications to the record-setting TGV train (built by Alstom) included larger wheels and a 25,000 horsepower engine - double the power of a conventional TGV. The French Railroads (SNCF), French Rail Authority (RFF) and train-maker Alstom have been conducting tests and trials of the special train and TGV East track for weeks. The record was achieved on a stretch of track - also specially modified for very high speeds - between Preny, near Metz (Lorraine region) and Bezannes, near Reims (Champagne regions).

The French Railroads have been setting world rail speed records since 1954 - at 151 mph, then 186 mph in 1955 and 320 mph in 1990.

"This is more than something just for the record books," explained Fabrice Morel, CEO of Rail Europe, SNCF's North American subsidiary and largest supplier of European rail products. "The tests conducted with the V150 train have provided valuable data to ensure the safety, comfort and environmental performance of trains operating at these very high speeds. Consider that in 1955 186 mph was a world speed record - and today it is the standard operating speed of French TGVs and other high-speed trains. But largely due to the speed safety margin proven today, the top speed on the new TGV East line will be hiked to 199 mph."

To book rail tickets and railpasses for travel on high-speed trains such as the TGV and Eurostar throughout Europe, log on to www.raileurope.com (U.S.) and www.raileurope.ca (Canada). Or call Rail Europe at 1-888-382-7245 (U.S.) or 1-800-361-7245 (Canada).

Notes

  • TGV= Train a Grande Vitesse (France's high speed train)
  • This is the world speed record for steel wheel-on-steel rail trains. Japan's maglev (magnetic levitation) train set the speed record for non-contact trains in 2003 at 361 mph.

Photos: members of the press may download high-res photos of Eurostar and other European trains at