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The French TGV in America


Meeting Details:

Next meeting: Oct 12th: 8pm Central


Question of the Week:

What does the group think of the TGV?



  • Faster Headlines

  • Infrastructure Package Update

  • TGV in America


Faster Headlines


Visual Capitalist

This is a great visual of the fastest trains in the World. First, of course, is the Japanese Chuo Shinkansen. Next up in China. Sadly, the US is nowhere to be found.


Wheels on Steel:

Fast Company

Progressive Railroading

South China Morning Post

Los Angeles Times


Up in the Air:



From the Captain:

Infrastructure Bill: Why the Hyperloop may save High-Speed Rail in the Infrastructure Bill:

In early September, the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee added $10 billion in high speed rail funding to the 2nd Infrastructure bill. With Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia (D) withholding his vote, the whole infrastructure bill was thrown into chaos. With this occurring, why would high speed rail funding survive? Well ironically it is because of the Hyperloop.

Back in 2019, the Hyperloop was categorized as a form of high-speed rail by the Federal Railway Administration (FRA). This put the FRA in charge of safety and regulation of the Hyperloop companies. Then in July 2020, Transportation Secretary Chou announced that Hyperloop was eligible for federal funding which allows Hyperloop's to go after the same pool of funding as the high-speed rail projects.

But why would Senator Manchin want to protect funding for the Hyperloop, when he is trying to cut the size of the infrastructure package? After all, West Virginia is a mountainous state, with a low-tech manufacturing and mining economy?

Well, its because of Virgin Hyperloop.

Back in October 2020, Virgin Hyperloop announced that they are building a certification facility in northern West Virginia. Senator Manchin, as well as all of the other representatives from West Virginia and the current Governor celebrated the Virgin Hyperloop Certification Facility as way to change West Virginia into a tech economy.

In a lot of ways, this is a similar story to Foxconn here in Wisconsin. A new company comes in and says it is going to invest billions of dollars. So the Republicans celebrate the creation of potentially thousands of high tech jobs and of turning the state's economy around. Pretty similar political mindset with Virgin Hyperloop in West Virginia. However, there are a few differences:

Foxconn was a huge, foreign company, with manufacturing facilities around the world; and that never lived up to its commitment here in the Wisconsin. This ultimately led to the Foxconn plant being seen as a waste of investment and a failure, which ultimately resulted in Governor Walker being voted out of office.

However, this is where West Virginia is different. Virgin Hyperloop is an American company that is just a startup and looking for funds from the US Congress. In DC, Senator Manchin is really the one deciding what the infrastructure bill would be. So he is in control. Therefore he wants what is best for West Virginia, and wants to see Virgin Hyperloop succeed.

So it is highly possible that not only will all of the high speed rail funding remain in the final infrastructure bills; but there is a chance we may see it even increased. After all, it is going to take more than $10 billion to build a Hyperloop system. Unfortunately we won’t know exactly what will happen until the bill is voted on; but it is odd to think that Hyperloop might save funding for high speed rail!

An interesting article showing Senator Manchins support for Hyperloop:

Metro News


High Speed Rail 101: SNCF (French National Railways)

About the TGV and SNCF:

While the Japanese were the first to develop the modern version of high speed rail, the French were second when they launched the TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, meaning "high-speed train") in 1981 between Paris and Lyon. Since then SNCF has built over 1,700 miles of high speed rail supporting speeds of 170+mph.

However, SNCF’s influence extends far out from France. Since launching service in France in 1981, the French have spread their tech to:

  • Thalys in Belgium and the Netherlands

  • Eurostar between the UK and France is another version

  • AVE in Spain (first generation models)

  • KTX in South Korea uses the TGV technology.

Most importantly, the TGV tech is already here in the US. Amtrak’s Acela uses a modified version of the TGV technology!

For the Acela the motors, electrical/drivetrain system , truck structure,brakes, and crash energy management technology are taken from the TGV, although the carriages are not from the TGV. Bombardier, the officially builder of the Acela, used its own LRC trains as a basis for the custom built carriages to adhere to the Federal Railway Administration regulations.

The next generation Acela trainsets (called Avelia Liberty) are also going to be based upon the TGV designs, but built from Alstrom instead of Bombardier.

SNCF's Plan for the US:

It is interesting to note that back in 2009, SNCF was planning on building a whole high speed rail network across the US; focusing on Florida, Texas, the Midwest, and California. Even more intriguing is that all but the Midwest proposal did eventually turn into actual projects. Here are those business plans:

For more background on these business plans, check out this blog from 2009:

The Transport Politic


Wanna learn more about the TGV?

Brown Bag Recommendations from the High Speed Rail Alliance:

Over the past year, the High Speed Rail Alliance down in Chicago has been doing monthly "Brown Bag" series on some very interesting topics, including on the French TGV, and plans for America. One particularly interesting episode discusses the relationship between air and rail:

Then this coming Friday (Oct 15th) the High Speed Rail Alliance will have a speaker who wrote the article on the TGV business plans here in the states. Definitely worth attending/viewing:

All of the speakers are experts and a whose-who in high speed rail here in the states. So if you like the Derailed series, we highly recommend you check out these videos.

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