When talking about expertise in high-speed rail systems around the world, the experience of Spanish companies can never be overstated
With a total size comparatively reduced, this Western European country has become one of the global rail leaders when it comes to technical developments, free-market competition and even network expansion plans.
Talgo is a Spanish company founded over 75 years ago and has been a key factor in not only the success of the high-speed rail transport mode as a whole in the domestic playing field, but also an example of international expansion; a mid-size company with a rich portfolio of exporting experiences and focused on the continued development of inhouse solutions.
To understand how Talgo fits in to the international market it is necessary to gain first an in-depth knowledge of its domestic market. Because Spain sets itself apart when it comes to the relation between train manufacturers and train operating companies.
As opposed to other systems where a national champion is the sole provider of high-speed trains for a publicly-owned undertaking – i.e. Alstom-SNCF in France – or the Japanese model where several operators are supplied by a small constellation of companies all of which are Japanese, Spain is the only country where national and overseas companies compete on a level playing field.
It is in this atypically demanding environment where Talgo has strived to develop its own solutions, many of which are far apart of century-old technical standards, and to complete a high-speed rolling stock portfolio featuring high-capacity, the lowest LCCs and the smallest acquisition price in the world, plus a full range of interoperable solutions.
In response to a market increasingly defined by urbanisation and new global mobility needs, Talgo has developed a new modular rolling stock solution capable of adapting to multiple markets while still preserving its technological principles of high passenger capacity and accessibility. The result is the platform Vittal, where Talgo applies its experience and technological solutions to urban transportation.
Talgo’s new EMU Vittal offers an excellent power-to-weight ratio, improves acceleration times, and reduces power consumption. The train’s optimised interior space is highly competitive and, combined with a low floor along the whole train length, improves passenger boarding and disembarking times, which in particular makes the train more accessible for passengers with reduced mobility.
With a maximum speed of up to 160kph or 200kph, depending on the version, it is expected to be another revolutionary Talgo product.
This new generation of train is another example of the company’s global and versatile approach, which seven decades after the fulfilment of the two pioneers’ dream has seen the company grow into a renowned supplier of railway products and services. During its development the company has never strayed from its principles of building green innovations which deliver sustainable mobility for a better society.
With Vittal, Talgo applies highly technological solutions developed for the high-speed market to all of its products. This has allowed Talgo to deliver the lightest trains since the foundation of the company in 1942. Optimizing design and the chosen materials, the Talgo trains are lighter whilst maintaining a high standard of safety due to the articulated configuration of the train.
These lightweight solutions together with improved aerodynamics have allowed Talgo to develop a regional train which is the best in its class with regards to energy consumption – an important issue when taking into account all costs involved for the operation of a train along its entire lifespan, of 35 years.
Decades of experience in optimizing the dynamic behaviour at high-speed has helped Talgo to be able to offer excellent comfort on its regional trains. Even in cases where the infrastructure is not the best. Also, noise reduction techniques are applied to enhance the passenger experience.
It is also worth highlighting Talgo’s experience in all sorts of climates and operating environments. Talgo trains are a reference in the market for their wide range of thermal resistance, proven in landscapes as diverse as the Eurasian steppe or the Arabian Peninsula’s desert, and are prepared to operate in routine conditions in a 100ºC temperature range: from + 50ºC to -50ºC.
Especially notable is the capacity, proven by the Talgo trains that currently operate the Moscow-Berlin route, to maintain the ability to automatically change the gauge even under the extreme ice and snow conditions winters can offer.
Additionally, the Spanish manufacturer has certified its trains in the world’s three main rail markets and its designs are approved under the strict regulations of the United States (FRA), Russia (GOST) and Europe (TSIs), and it has also trains running with certifications from two of these regulations, simultaneously.
Talgo has been maintaining trains since the foundation of the company and has developed a wide expertise in maintenance and subsequently is exceptionally well positioned to develop trains with low lifecycle costs, specifically in the case of the Vittal platform.
Talgo in Germany
In early February 2019, Talgo set a further milestone in its rich history. The company has been awarded a framework agreement to deliver up to one hundred conventional long-distance trains by the largest European railway operator, Deutsche Bahn AG (DB). Under the scope of the mentioned framework agreement DB has also signed the firm order worth approximately €550 million ($620 million) for the delivery of a first batch of 23 trainsets, including traction, for a maximum operating speed of 230kph.
Talgo succeeded in winning a European public bidding procedure. The trains have a configuration which is common in Germany: one locomotive developed by Talgo and a set of coaches which at the end have a driver’s cabin to allow push-pull services.
The project foresees deliveries of the first units to start passenger operation by the end of 2023. German operator DB is planning to operate these trains on both national and international routes.
This project is not the first one for Talgo in Germany, but it is the most ambitious up to now. 25 years ago, the company opened its German subsidiary in Berlin: a maintenance workshop where maintenance services for all kinds of rolling stock are undertaken.
In addition, since 2016 Talgo trains are connecting Moscow and Berlin through Belarus and Poland, which thanks to their natural tilting and variable gauge systems they can reach higher speeds in curves and go through the border between European gauge (1.435mm) and Russian gauge (1.520mm) without stopping.
Although in recent years Talgo has become more known for high speed (>250kph) and very high speed products (>300kph), e.g. projects like Haramain between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, Talgo also has large experience in the production and maintenance of conventional rolling stock for long distance and regional services. Its loco-hauled trainsets are key to success in Spain, Kazakhstan, Russia and the USA. International services operate on the US-West coast corridor between the cities of Portland, Seattle and Vancouver (Canada).
This world-class, international experience sets Talgo apart as a trustworthy partner to improve mobility across Asia.
Talgo is much more than a passenger trains manufacturer. For the last 65 years Talgo has been the sole maintainer of the rolling stock it manufactures, and this lengthy and heterogeneous experience has allowed us to gain an invaluable expertise and to export that knowledge to new areas and segments.
We have thus developed a wide set of maintenance tools devised to boost performance on some key activities undertook on rail depots, including underfloor wheel lathes ready to smooth the rolling of stock with up to 40t per axle.
No matter what kind of stock you have, Talgo is the perfect answer to give your trains a new spin and extend their lifespan while limiting the renewal program costs.
Tel: +34 91 631 3800
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