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French claim fastest train title

TGV hits 574.8km/h

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The French today claimed the world's fastest "train on rails" title by accelerating a modified TGV to a white-knuckle 574.8km/h (356mph), the BBC reports.

The previous record of 515km/h (320mph) was set in 1990, although a Japanese Maglev managed to reach a cool 581km/h (361mph) back in 2003.

The high-speed dash was made at 1114 GMT (1314 local) on a section of track between Paris and Strasbourg. The "V150" vehicle boasted "larger wheels than usual and the engine [pulled] three double-decker cars", the BBC notes, and had already hit 559km/h in "unofficial trials", according to state rail outfit SNCF.

SNCF and the train's manufacturer Alstom claim the record attempt represented "a test on the infrastructure in extreme conditions, which is impossible to carry out in the laboratory", although we suspect national pride may have played a part in it.

According to the triumphant Alstom press release, Hubert du Mesnil, President of Réseau Ferré de France, declared: "The speed record that has been set today evidences French excellence and expertise in the domain of very high speed, which enables the quality of the railway system to be improved to the benefit of passenger comfort and safety."

Anne-Marie Idrac, SNCF CEO, chipped in with: "This speed record represents a major technological and human achievement. The results of tests conducted on board the V150 trainset enable us to envisage a highly promising future in the domain of very high-speed rail transport, based around 4 priority areas: life on board, safety & performance, journey and environment." ®

Bootnote

You can find footage of today's record here on YouTube. For the trainspotters among you, the V150 "is made up of 2 TGV™ POS power cars, 3 TGV™ Duplex (double-decker) coaches and 2 latest-generation very high-speed train motorized bogies developed by Alstom: the AGVTM. In total, this system develops an output of 19.6MW (25,000 horsepower)".

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