Comfortable rail travel

Future high-speed trains in the UK could offer passengers more space and comfort with a new design from Alstom.

The power and transport giant developed the X’Trapolis product platform based on its fleets in Australia, Chile and Spain and incorporating technology used in Alstom high-speed trains.

The train architecture is based around a concept called ‘Bogie Offset Articulation’, which reduces the number of bogies by up to 30 per cent.

A reduced number of bogies (the swivelling wheeled undercarriage on a carriage or locomotive that enables the vehicle to negotiate curves) means carriages can be shorter and wider and therefore optimise the vehicle gauge. Passenger space and comfort can then in turn be improved.

Alstom claims that safety onboard is increased as the energy absorption areas are concentrated in the elongated front end of the train rather than between carriages, making these areas safer for passengers and crew.

The new design also changes the train door configuration. Alstom claims the new door configuration is geared to reduce stopping times at stations by making the boarding and alighting process more efficient, particularly on high-density routes.

The two sets of double doors situated in the centre of each carriage provide 25 per cent more doors than a conventional train set of equivalent length.

End-of-life issues have also reportedly been taken into consideration with the X’Trapolis design. According to Alstom, 95 per cent of the train is recyclable.

It is also hoped X’Trapolis can reduce its environmental impact through increased energy efficiency. Alstom stated that this is due to the reduced number of bogies, which makes the X’Trapolis design 28 per cent lighter than existing electric commuter trains on the UK network.

The lighter weight, combined with regenerative braking, an aerodynamic design, intelligent energy management and efficient lighting has the potential, it is claimed, to save up to 50 per cent energy.

Alstom stated the reduced number of bogies and axles in contact with the track makes the train less noisy both externally and internally. It also makes maintenance easier.

All maintenance would be controlled with Alstom’s on-board diagnostic system, TrainTracer, and in-house spare parts and traction engineering in the UK.

Roland Kientz, transport senior vice-president of Alstom in north Europe, said: ‘The development of X’Trapolis is evidence of Alstom’s commitment to the UK rail industry. It incorporates the best of the technologies already deployed on our fleets and I am convinced that the combination of technology, service provider experience and the motivation of our teams will bring outstanding benefits to UK operators and their passengers.’

Paul Robinson, managing director of Alstom Transport for the UK and Ireland, added: ‘We believe the time is right to introduce X’Trapolis to the UK. We are drawing on Alstom’s global strengths to offer a new approach to commuter travel.’