France’s new AGV: and you thought the TGV was fast

Despite the many Frenchmen complaining about Sarkozy behaving more like a celebrity than President, he is still treated like a king at all of France’s important events. Tuesday February 5 was a classic example when a whole lot of pomp and circumstance went into the unveiling of Alstom engineering company’s new train, the AGV. In French that stands for automatrice à grande vitesse. Loosely translated: a really really fast train.

The TGV led to a lot of “oohs” and “ahs” last year when it broke the world speed record for a train. But going 574.8 km/hour was only a one time deal, passenger TGVs have a maximum rail speed of 320 km/h. The new AGV will up that to 360 km/h (224 miles/h) allowing passengers to do about 1000 km (600 miles) in three hours, getting one step closer to making train travel comparable to traveling by plane. The Alstom company is pretty proud of its production, comparing it to the Airbus A380 in terms of importance and innovation, probably on account of the fact that the train is more energy efficient than the TGV and has a larger passenger capacity.

The Italian operator NTV has already bought 25 trains and says it will have them running on Italy’s high speed tracks by 2011. Let the countdown begin.