If the news that Italy is to get its fleet of candy red high speed trains part owned by the head of Ferrari next year isn’t enough to excite those who would rather rail than fly between Melbourne and Sydney, get an eye full of the interiors.
Not just the swish spacious seats, or the vast windows, but the embossed logo.
OK, it’s not a flying kangaroo. But the Italos will bring real competition to the state run rail services using the same tracks, and make proponents of high speed rail in Australia drool, if not hallucinate.
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Back to earth, Italy already has rail infrastructure to support a speed of 300 kmh, which is what the 360 kmh capable Ferrari trains will be limited to, or more than twice as fast as they could do before coming to grief on the existing Sydney-Melbourne line. And they are actually made in France, where they are intended to do full speed.
The key enabler of higher sustained speed on this refinement of the current TGV class designs to what is called the AGV or automotrice grand vitesse is the spreading of the electric motors to smaller units on the bogeys, rather than locomotives at either end of a set. That notion is actually as old as the original electrical tube trains of the 19th century, but according to Alstom, the French maker, the realisation of the traction and speed benefits has finally been achieved in a format which might in the next iteration, yield practicable metal wheel on metal track cruising speeds of more than 400 kmh or even up to around 550 kmh, where preventing oscillations from sending the carriages airborne seems to hit the engineering limits of foreseeable designs.