(CNN) – Welcome to the future of high-speed rail in Europe.
French rail company SNCF and train manufacturer Alstom have unveiled the first completed TGV M, a next-generation high-speed double-decker train with a longer, more aerodynamic nose — perfect for traversing the French countryside.
Alstom called the new train “the TGV of the future”. TGV stands for Train à Grand Vitesse, meaning high-speed train.
This bright new design will debut on the Paris rail network in 2024 and across the country over the next 10 years.
Bigger and better
TGV is one of the world’s most famous high-speed train brands and has been a staple of European rail travel since the early 1980s.
In 2018, SNCF, the French state-owned railway company that controls TGV, ordered 100 TGV M trains (also known as Avelia Horizon trains) at a cost of €2.7 billion (about $2.7 billion). 15 more trains were ordered in August 2022.
Most of the trains will run within France, but Alstom says 15 will run internationally on the rails.
The TGV M will operate at the same maximum speed as the previous generation TGV trains: 350 kilometers per hour (almost 220 mph).
The new TGV M train, presented at the Alstom plant in La Rochelle (western France), will be the next generation of high-speed trains in Europe.
Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images
The TGV M trains don’t just have a 40.5 cm (15.9 in) longer nose than their predecessors, they’re bigger. The more spacious interior can accommodate 740 seats, compared to the current maximum of 634 seats.
Ms TGV also achieved what manufacturer Alstom calls “unprecedented modularity”, meaning the train’s interior configuration can be easily adapted. A carriage can be converted from second class to first class and back, or it can be adapted to accommodate oversized luggage or bicycles. There will also be on-board social areas for passengers to offer variety and flexibility on long journeys.
According to Alstom, the design improves the TGV’s current energy efficiency and carbon footprint, with 97% of the train’s components being recyclable.
It also has better accessibility: there will be a platform lift for wheelchair users to board the train independently and an onboard sound system to assist visually impaired passengers.
Larger windows will take advantage of the views and the TGV’s lighting will be adjusted according to the natural light outside.
In a statement, Alstom describes “a set of trains whose sensors continuously transmit thousands of data that allow real-time analysis of the train from all angles to optimize maintenance and availability.”
From design to reality
The futuristic elements of the TGV M will require some infrastructure changes to the French rail network — for example, some station stop signs will have to be moved so that they are not obscured by the longer nose of the new train.
Train drivers were actively involved in the design process, specifically the interior of the driver’s cab, says Alstom.
“Using virtual reality glasses, one hundred drivers were given a virtual tour of the cockpit, with a choice of three space layouts,” says the company.
With the first completed train unveiled, the next step is what Alstom describes as a “long testing period”: the first test phase will begin in the Czech Republic in late 2022.
Top photo by Xavier Leoty/AFP/Getty Images