Friday, December 8, 2006 at 6:00 pm

High-Speed Rail in Spain

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AVE. Photo by FototrenesA long, seven-page article on high-speed rail in Spain, which network is called AVE, from a special advertising section in MIT’s Technology Review. A good read, but technical.

High-speed rail had more than its fair share of challenges in that country: Spain’s national rail network, RENFE, was dilapidated compared with other countries, and it was (and is) broad gauge to boot, which made interchanging with French railways all but impossible. (There’s also about 1,250 km of narrow gauge operated by FEVE.)

But it’s also had its share of innovations based on the requirements of odd Spanish railways, notably from the Talgo company (Wikipedia). For example, tilting trainsets, used worldwide (such as on the Amtrak Cascades service), which allow trains to move faster through curves, were in response to twisty Spanish lines. And to respond to the break of gauge between Spain and France, the AVE lines are being built to standard gauge (and they’re being built like mad). How, then, to deal with the changeover to old broad-gauge track, as high-speed trains must inevitably do? Get this: variable-gauge axles that allow trainsets to change their gauge on the fly. Handy when you’re crossing from a standard-gauge country to a broad-gauge country — i.e., Russia (which uses five-foot gauge).

Via Gadling. Photo by Fototrenes.

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