TGV, or Train à Grande Vitesse, is France’s high-speed rail service. It was the fourth high speed rail system to open when it went into service in 1978. It’s original trains, TGV Sud-Est, has captured the imaginations of more than one generation. Originally painted a bright orange, the unmistakable Alstom-built trains became a staple of dreams and basement train sets. They were built into the 1980s and still remain in use, though they have been repainted into the standard gray and blue theme of the SNCF’s TGV service. Despite their age, the futuristic styling is not all show and no go. They are capable of the TGV standard speed of 300 km/h. The 98 bicurrent models in use can haul 385 tonnes and output 9,100 hp on 25 kV AC systems or 4,200 hp on 1.5 kV DC systems. There are also 9 Series 33000 tricurrent models which add a 15 kV 16⅔ Hz AC system for operating in Switzerland.
[Image Credit: Phillip Capper]