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The TGV is France's long-distance rail service. It
was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom
and SNCIF, the French national rail operator, and
is now operated primarily by SNCF. Following the
inaugural TGV service between Paris and Lyon, in
1981, the TGV network, centered on Paris, has
expanded to connect cities across France and in
adjacent countries. It set the record for the
fastest wheeled train, having reached 574.8 km/h
on 3 April 2007, and also holds the world's highest
average speed for a regular passenger service. TGV
is a registered trademark of SNCF.
A train is a connected series of
vehicles that move along a track to
transport freight or passengers
from one place to another. The
track usually consists of two
rails, but might also be a monorail or
maglev guideway. Propulsion for the
train is provided by a separate
locomotive, or from individual
motors in self-propelled multiple
units. Most modern trains are
powered by diesel locomotives or by
electricity supplied by overhead
wires or additional rails, although
historically the steam locomotive
was the dominant form of
locomotive power. possible.
The idea of the TGV was first proposed in the 1960s, after
Japan had begun construction of the Shinkansen in 1959. At
the time the French government favored new technologies,
exploring the production of hovercraft and maglev trains such
as Aérotrain. Simultaneously, SNCF began researching high
speed trains that would operate on conventional track.
It was originally planned that the TGV, then standing for
there grande vitesse or turbine grande vitesse, would be
propelled by gas turbine-electric locomotives. Gas turbines
were selected for their small size, good power-to-weight
ratio, and ability to deliver high power over an extended
period. The first prototype, TGV 001, was the only TGV
constructed with this engine - following the increase in the
price of oil during the 1973 energy crisis, gas turbines were
deemed impractical and the project turned to electricity
from overhead lines. The electricity was to be generated
by France's new nuclear power stations.
The TGV service opened to the public between Paris and Lyon
on 27 September 1981. The initial target customers were
businesspeople travelling between those two cities. The TGV
was considerably faster than normal trains, cars, or airplanes.
The trains became popular outside their target market, the
public welcoming fast and practical travel between cities.
SNCF operates a fleet of about 400 TGVs. Seven types of TGV
or TGV derivative currently operate on the French network;
TGV Sud-Est and TGV La Poste
Thalys PBA and PBKA