By using this site, you agree with our cookies usage in accordance with our cookies policy. You can always disable cookies in your browser settings.



Talgo Avril high-speed EMUs have entered service in Spain

21 May 2024
Reading time ~ 10 min
The Talgo Avril EMUs are preparing for their maiden voyages
The Talgo Avril EMUs are preparing for their maiden voyages. Source: Renfe
Krechetov Dmitry, Editorial Contributor
Reading time ~ 10 min
Savenkova Ekaterina, Editorial Contributor to International Projects of ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

Spain: The first ten AVE trains have commenced operation between Madrid and Galicia and Asturias. These are the world’s first variable gauge trains with a maximum speed of 330 km/h. The prototype was unveiled in 2012, and the delivery was delayed by more than three years.

The increase in the maximum operating speed from 250 to 300 km/h is expected to reduce journey time by 15 minutes on average. During the journey, the Talgo Avril changes gauge from the European standard of 1,435 mm to the Iberian standard of 1,668 mm. A further five 1,435 mm trains will be introduced between Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Murcia as a part of Avlo low-cost service. The Spanish manufacturer asserts that the increased capacity and reduced tare weight result in a notable enhancement of efficiency, calculated per passenger.

The Talgo Avril high-speed EMU on its first route between Barcelona and Madrid The Talgo Avril high-speed EMU on its first route between Barcelona and Madrid. Source: Miguel Angel Gracia

Passengers taking the first AVE Talgo Avril Passengers taking the first AVE Talgo Avril. Source: Luisma Murias

Known as the series 106 by Renfe, the new trains will replace the S-120 built by the CAF-Alstom consortium in 2004–2006 and the S-130/730 based on Talgo 250, both of dual-gauge type, and the 1,435 mm S-112 Avlo trains. As the next 15 trainsets are delivered, the Talgo Avril will be introduced on routes to France, namely, the Barcelona–Lion–Paris line.

Avril technical specifications

The Avril train is based on the Talgo 350 design and has a length of 201.8 m. Each trainset comprises 12 passenger single-axle cars with unique self-guided wheels, or rodals, and two four-axle head cars with a power output of 4,400 kW each.

The passenger cars are 25–30 cm wider than other Talgo vehicles or comparable models from other builders, reaching 3,200 mm and complying with UIC dimension requirements. This was made possible thanks to the use of an improved car body positioning system by Liebherr, Switzerland. If a traditional Talgo 13 m long car passes curves tilting by centrifugal force, the Avril vehicles are aligned electronically by sensors and corrective devices. Furthermore, the system reduces vibrations, thereby enhancing passenger comfort.

High-speed Talgo Avril and Talgo 350 at the Ourense station High-speed Talgo Avril and Talgo 350 at the Ourense station. Source: Dan G.M/X

The Spanish manufacturer relocated the ventilation box from the under-window space upwards, which, in conjunction with wider bodies, has increased the interior space to 3,100 mm, representing a 25% increase. The seats in economy-class cars are now arranged in a 2+3 configuration with a 500 mm aisle. The Avril is claimed to be as comfortable as other 2+2 trains of a similar class.

The basic configuration for Renfe comprises 507 seats in two classes. Other 200 m trains have a lower capacity: the S-112 (Talgo 350) with 365 seats and the S-103 (Siemens Velaro E) with 404 seats. The Avril weighs 325 t, i.e. a record tare weight of 641 kg per passenger, which is significantly better than 1 t for the single-deck high-speed trains of other manufacturers (Siemens Mobility and Alstom). The new Talgo train offers a capacity-length and capacity-weight ratio that is comparable to that of double-decker trains. In contrast to these, the floor level is consistent throughout the entire trainset, eliminating the need for steps. This ensures compliance with the European standard for high-speed trains, which requires 760 mm above the rail head. The Avril is therefore designed to be as comfortable as possible for passengers with reduced mobility.

The economy-class interior in the Talgo Avril high-speed train The economy-class interior in the Talgo Avril high-speed train. Source: Talgo

The first-class interior in the Talgo Avril high-speed train The first-class interior in the Talgo Avril high-speed train. Source: librepensador/X

The Avril can reach a maximum speed of 330 km/h on lines of any gauge, while the previous Talgo 250 could travel at 250 km/h on 1,435 mm lines and at 220 km/h on 1,668 mm lines. In September 2023, the series train reached 360 km/h on the Ourense–Santiago-de-Compostela 1,668 mm section, thus exceeding the previous record for the Iberian standard by 75 km/h.

History of development and orders

In 2008, the Avril concept was introduced. Four years later, the first prototypes of the head and two passenger cars were unveiled at InnoTrans. Following the naming of the prototype as G3, it was developed into a full-length train. During the tests on the Spanish railway network between 2014 and 2016, the train achieved the required speed of 363 km/h for certification. Having travelled over 76,000 km, the Avril was approved for operation and serial production.

In 2016–2017, Renfe, the Spanish national operator, placed an order for 30 trains. Half of these are 1,435 mm only, while the remainder are 1,435/1,668 mm variable gauge. The contract for the construction and 40-year maintenance of the trains was valued at almost €1.5 bln. All trains are equipped to operate on 25 kV AC and 3 kV DC lines, with 1,435 mm trains additionally able to operate on 1.5 kV DC lines, allowing for international travel to France. The AVE trains in the basic configuration comprise three first-class cars, including those with wheelchair access, eight economy-class cars and a bistro car, providing a total of 507 seats.

Ten trains (five variable-gauge and five single-gauge) have been designed for the affordable Avlo service, with ticket prices starting at €7. The trains have an increased capacity of 581 passengers, consisting of economy cars only.

In a bistro car in the Avril high-speed train In a bistro car in the Avril high-speed train. Source: Talgo

The series cars differ significantly from the prototype. The front end of the head cars does not feature the so-called duck bill, which is characteristic of previous models. Initially, Avril was planned to be fitted with ABB traction electrical equipment. However, in 2018, it was decided to abandon Swiss equipment in favour of traction converters from Ingeteam, Spain, and electric motors from TSA, Austria. Talgo has not yet provided an explanation for the breakdown of its long-standing collaboration with ABB.

Control panel of the high-speed Talgo Avril Control panel of the high-speed Talgo Avril. Source: Talgo

The first trains were scheduled for delivery in early 2021, but the testing process commenced only in 2020, with software failure recovery taking until 2023. The manufacturer attributed the delays to changes in suppliers and disruptions to production chains due to the impact of the global pandemic. The serial Avril was finally certified in October 2023, and the first ten trains were handed over in April 2024. In light of the 3.5-year delay, Renfe is seeking to recover a fine of €166 mln in court and has imposed an additional penalty of €80,000 for each day of delay since April.

In January 2023, the French private operator Le Train also reached an agreement for the potential purchase of ten Avril trains from Talgo. The first trains are scheduled for construction in 2025, but no information about the conclusion of the contract is currently available.

Other variants of the Avril trains

According to Talgo’s website, the Avril trains can be operated with any power supply, including autonomous from a diesel generator, any number and configuration of cars, or any type of gauge, including 1,520 mm. In 2010, the producer announced that the G4 modification could be created with a design speed of 380 km/h, up to six bogies, 12 axles, and a power of up to 12,000 kW. Passengers could reportedly be accommodated in power cars, increasing the capacity of the basic configuration to 600 people. However, the project has not yet been realised.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter!