Sunday, April 12, 2009

Alstom: "Make It Happen"

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Alstom put out a great video about possible interior designs for HSR trains - picture yourself sitting in one of those configurations looking out at the Tehachapis circa 2019 (h/t to Seattle Transit Blog):



In fact, the exteriors do indeed look like parts of our Golden State (such as the Tehachapis) and it's entirely possible this ad is aimed squarely at us. If so, bravo - this is an excellent way to continue to build public interest in HSR trains here in California. No airline can or will provide that kind of level of comfort or on-board amenities, certainly not Southwest.

28 comments:

bossyman15 said...

mmmm nice but one problem i can see is that, that kind of seating means less seats = less profit

just like japanese shinkansen.

Tony L. said...

Nonetheless, the AGV is well-positioned to meet the CHSRA's requirements mostly by virtue of its certified top speed (360 km/h). And by the time the trainset bidding process starts, the AGV would have had service history with NTV.

Other potential competitors include the Siemens Velaro E and "overclocked" versions of the Talgo 350 and E5 Series Shinkansen. I do not expect the Talgo AVRIL, Kawasaki efSET, AGV Duplex or the HEMU-400x to be adequately tested in time for the CHSRA's liking.

Rafael said...

@ bossyman15 -

the shinkansen trains are well over a foot wider than Alstom's. Track spacing in California is wider (14') than in Europe (~12'), so wide-body designs should be preferred. You don't have to install five seats abreast but it's nice to have that option. Of course, off-the-shelf proven Japanese designs will be eliminated if the DTX tunnel in SF goes ahead as designed, thanks to its miniscule curve radii.

Note that Siemens' Velaro RUS for the Russian market (1520mm gauge) features wider car bodies than the regular Velaro in service in Spain. Top speed in Russia will be 150mph vs. 186-220mph in Spain.

Alon Levy said...

Why is top speed in Russia lower when the gauge is wider?

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

gauge width is not the only factor. You also need tracks, signaling and other elements to support very high speeds. Lower top speeds permit reduced acquisition and operations cost. Keep in mind that Russian winters are extremely harsh, so reliability may matter more to the operator than very high speed.

Rafael said...

@ Alon Levy -

just to avoid any misunderstanding: the RZD "Sapsan" service between Moscow and St. Petersburg is based on the Velaro RUS. It is currently undergoing acceptance testing and speeds are being ramped up. 250 km/h is the target for initial commercial operations. The trains themselves can be uprated to 300km/h.

bossyman15 said...

why does the DXT tunnel posse a problem for shinkansen? i mean could it be possible if cahsra wants to buy shinkansen sets from japan but modifiy it a bit so it could have bit more turning radii? I don't see why it couldn't be done.

Alex M. said...

This video gives me even more reasons to pray that the AGV is chosen. When I was watching the video I thinking to myself "that looks a lot like the central valley, weird." I wouldn't be at all surprised if the video is targeted at the CHSRA.

I'll take one in "Connected" configuration, please. I love that idea of a private mini-boardroom for people traveling that may need the space.

Owen E said...

regarding the japanese trains - I think modifying the trainsets to have a somewhat tighter turning radius is not trivial at all. It would involve an entirely new bogey design, and who knows what else - and in doing so you lose out on the benefit in terms of cost and reliability of an off-the-shelf design.

I think the design that requires three closely spaced extremely tight 90 degree turns on approach to the transbay terminal is just stupid in the first place. We already touched on this, but the tail is wagging the dog, to the tune of $2 billion dollars or more.

Why not listen to Quentin Kopp and terminate all high speed trains at 4th & King? Let Caltrain be the one to get extended to Transbay. This follows the example of basically every other city with HSR: let the HSR trains stop on the periphery of the CBD, and let users walk, take taxis, or other transit (Central Subway / Caltrain, plus maybe a future BART extension of some sort) to access locations within the CBD.

My experience on high speed trains (KTX vs Shinkansen) makes me think that the wide body of the Shinkansen makes for a superior product, from a passenger's perspective anyway. I'd hate to see the Japanese trains eliminated from contention because of the IMO unnecessary requirement to directly serve Transbay.

arcady said...

There's two factors limiting speed in Russia: the first is that they're running these trains on existing lines that have been upgraded, rather than on new lines purpose built for 300 km/h running. Second, some these existing lines, in addition to having curves, are also electrified with 3000 VDC, which limits the amount of power the train can draw, and thus the speed that it can accelerate to. The trains will be dual mode (3000VDC/25kV AC), and would thus be usable on any potential

As for the Alstom videos, CUPHOLDERS! Amtrak really needs those, they make it so much easier to deal with beverages, especially when you've got high unbalanced superelevation.

Andrew said...

I get the feeling that Alstrom will be chosen, if only because of a few high-profile TGV rides by CA politcians. I'm rather particular to the Shinkansen, though. Would it be prohibitive to run trainsets from multiple vendors on the system? It would be cool if CAHSR could be a world showcase for HSR.

And to echo what Owen said, the DTX tunnel is an atrocious design for HSR. The curves eliminate off-the-shelf Kawasaki designs and are the absolute tightest any high-speed train, anywhere in the world can handle, which means slow speeds and horrendous echoing screeches from the bogeys as the trains go around the curves.

4th and King might be okay for an HSR terminal. It's just lame that East Bay riders get the shaft because of no easy BART connection, unless Muni's planning on running 3-car trains with 5-minute headways through the Central Subway (fat chance). I'm disappointed that there wasn't a serious movement earlier on for something like the central railway station at 8th and Market that I thought of a while ago.

BruceMcF said...

bossyman15 said..."mmmm nice but one problem i can see is that, that kind of seating means less seats = less profit"

Bloody hell, mate, they be charging the same amount per car if full ... those "connected" seats, you be paying for the privilege.

resident said...

Well this simply and graphically reinforces that High Speed Rail is luxury travel for the priveleged, in a state that can't even to afford to pay its school teachers. More gluttonous thinking from the same mindeset that sold every low income Californian a McMansion on 1% adjustable rate mortgages. Disgusting, frankly.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Well, taking the low road... I don't have any kids and therefore have no need for their education. And, even if I did have kids, what would they need an education for. if they cannot get around the state because society is locked up in congestion and transportation for those that can... would be only for the privledged?

In 2050 the state will have a population close to 60,000,000 people. Roadway and airport expansion cannot fulfill the statewide transportation needs of that growth. HSR can go a very long way. Unless education can drum up Star Trek teleporters...

ah, nevermind.

Spokker said...

"Well this simply and graphically reinforces that High Speed Rail is luxury travel for the priveleged"

Whoever ends up operating high speed rail in California would be stupid not to offer first-class options. Let's not build any airports because a few first-class passengers offend our delicate sensibilities.

Spokker said...

I doubt that the "connected" seats would take up even a full car, if they were offered. I envision a consist might be made up of a combined first-class/business class car and a business class car, with the rest being coach class.

I can see athletes, CEOs, and other high rollers taking advantage of those seats. Offer them and jack up the price to make the system more profitable.

Robert Cruickshank said...

It seemed rather clear to me that the "Connected" configuration was designed to be the first/business class, and that the others could be used for the primary ridership class, whatever we call it, depending on studies of their impact on ridership and revenue.

luis d. said...

Resident
"Well this simply and graphically reinforces that High Speed Rail is luxury travel for the priveleged."

Two things,

1. If you think about it and if our main long distance transportation had alway's been HSR and Flying were the "new kid on the block" it would seem that flying would be a luxury only the wealthy could afford. We know that both typical guy's in suit's and average joe's can afford to fly but you don't say anything because it's normal to you, It happens everyday! I'm sure their will be a first class on the train and a coach with it's prices jacked up for first class.

2. I've seen comments elsewere claiming that HSR is a waste of money because it will carry homeless people and smell like urine and then we have comments like that of "Resident's" saying that it's a luxury only a few can afford?? Can you beleive it? Make up your minds. The best thing to do is ignore you people cuz you've never riden on HSR so you don't know what your talking about.

Andrew said...

Don't waste your time indulging this "resident" cat.

jim said...

Gorgeous. !'ll take 10. Japanese schmapenese, no one can top French style. With the train sets as shown in the video, CaHSR will be an instant success. I guarantee it.

Owen E said...

jim: If Alstom can make a wider trainset, I'm all for it. I don't care what country it comes from, but IMO the wider trains really are a must-have.

AGV = 9'10" wide
Shinkansen = 11'0" wide

"14 inches, no big deal" you may say - but that could mean each seat is 2.5 inches wider, plus 4 inches left over for a wider aisle. I doubt CHSRA would entertain the option of 3+2, as the Japanese do on the non-reserved cars for the Shinkansen.

Herbie said...

^ I've ridden the ICE and TGV trains. The coach class seats on the ICE are already comparable in seat spacing to a first class airline seat. TGV seating seems to fall somewhere in between the ICE and standard airline coach.

If the trains were much wider, what would probably happen is there would be room for 5-across seating, thus shrinking the seat width. I hope the trains are narrow enough where there will be no possibility for middle seats.

prompt said...

They tried private conference rooms (for business) on the ICE1 but ripped them out soon at the next refurbishment cycle. Not enough usage. They do have compartments and rooms for families with noisy kids.

Then again, who needs a room when you have space like this.

Alex M. said...

@ prompt -

OOOOOOOOOOO!! Me likey! Looks like first class on an A380.

TomW said...

@ Owen E:
Width isn't the biggest issue foir comfort - seat pitch is.
Case in point: trains in teh UK are narrower than the rest of Europe, but still mroe spacious than typical plane seats. The aisle is a lot narrower though

Alon Levy said...

What kind of pitch is reasonable for HSR? Plane coaches use 30-32 inches, but I presume this is too low for trains.

Eric said...

The exteriors look like California because they look like central-southern Spain and parts of Southern France and Italy.

There's a reason they call our climate here in CA "mediterreanean," after all.

Phil said...

This concern with speed seems unjustified. I agree with the Russian operating speed of 150 mph. Anything else is needless expense pursuing speed when we should be more interested in robustness and carrying more weight.