Talgo, the leading Spanish company in the design, manufacture and maintenance of high-speed light rail vehicles, commemorates today, 28 October 2022, the 80th anniversary of its founding by José Luis de Oriol y Urigüen and Alejandro Goicoechea Omar. With innovation as the founding essence of the company, Talgo is today a global technology leader, a company recognised for its capacity for innovation, unique distinctive technology and reliability, and a world benchmark for sustainable high-speed, long and medium distance trains, designed and manufactured entirely in Spain.
Talgo was born as a pioneering project that modernised the railway in Spain with its concept of an articulated light train with independent wheels, a faster train that reduced energy consumption, tractor effort and journey times, increasing passenger safety and comfort. In 1942, the alliance of the two pioneers, an engineer who persevered with a revolutionary idea and a businessman who gave practically everything he had to believe in that idea. Talgo’s technology was then considered revolutionary, completely different from what had been invented in 1825, more than a century earlier, in the United Kingdom. This Talgo technology was characterised by many differentials that still persist today: lightness, low energy consumption, accessibility and passenger comfort, and resistance and low maintenance costs.
These differential values, together with the innovation that has always characterised the company, have enabled Talgo to become a technological benchmark over 80 years. The trains that Talgo designs and manufactures today are built on the founding innovative concepts that have given Talgo a clear competitive advantage. This is reflected in its flagship trains around the world, such as the Talgo Avril very high-speed train, the German ICE L (Talgo 230) train of the future and the high-speed train that crosses the Saudi Arabian desert every day between Mecca and Medina.
Carlos Palacio Oriol, Chairman of Talgo, said: “These 80 years have been defined by the innovative founding spirit that characterises us and that has allowed us, since our beginnings, to position ourselves at the forefront of industrial development. Our mission is to continue working so that more and more countries and people can benefit from the technological advantages offered by our trains, which are a benchmark for safety, technological innovation, sustainability, excellence and comfort in the global railway industry”. He added: “I would like to thank all the people who work at Talgo for their commitment, dedication and effort to make this company a technological leader in the world railway market”.
Growth has accompanied the development of Talgo, which, over these eight decades, has expanded internationally, anticipating the needs of rail transport and expanding and diversifying its portfolio. This has resulted in exponential growth to become a successful multinational employing more than 2,600 people of 47 nationalities, reaching a large part of Europe, North America, the Middle East and Central Asia, with an industrial presence in seven countries (including the United States and Germany).
Talgo’s technology is unique in the world
Talgo’s technology allows its trains to be the only ones in the world with a single, low floor at platform level, which translates into direct comfort for passengers, who do not have to climb stairs, and shorter boarding and disembarking times for passengers. Its trains are also the only ones capable of taking full advantage of the European gauge, which means that the rail vehicles are wider, allowing more passengers to be carried in greater comfort.
These and other competitive advantages have combined to make the company’s trains a benchmark for maximum efficiency per passenger carried, combining maximum speed and greater seating capacity with a lower tare weight and therefore a lower power requirement for the same train length. In the current climate emergency scenario, this energy efficiency translates immediately and also into a minimal impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
Talgo is also a benchmark in new developments in composite materials, which make it possible to reduce the weight of the wheelsets and other elements of railway vehicles by 50%, further lightening the overall weight of a train that is already, by definition, light. The company is also making progress in new traction technologies, such as the Vittal One train powered by green hydrogen, the TPH2 prototype of which is currently in the dynamic testing phase and which the manufacturer is going to deploy in collaboration with Repsol.
Talgo Avril, Talgo’s most advanced very high speed train
Talgo Avril is Talgo’s most advanced very high-speed train, a benchmark for quality and operational competitiveness in the very high-speed rail segment. It is part of a highly flexible technological platform that allows each delivery to be adapted to the increasingly complex needs of the European railway market with different blocks depending on its interior commercial configuration, its ability to change gauge (Iberian and international), and its equipment to be operated on various types of railway networks.
Their high capacity and light overall weight enable Avril trains to minimise energy consumption and multiply efficiency, which in turn contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and further enhancing the train’s position as the most sustainable mode of transport. Furthermore, its composition of 12 passenger carriages and 200 metres in length is located on a single floor and at the same height as the platform, allowing passengers to access the train and move throughout its interior without steps or ramps. This is a unique Talgo capability that not only facilitates access for people with reduced mobility, but also offers an easy journey for all passengers, from parents with prams to passengers with bulky luggage or bicycles.
Talgo’s ICE L: European benchmark in international long-distance transport
The ICE L is a long-distance train being designed and manufactured by Talgo and has been chosen by the German operator Deutsche Bahn to become the new design reference for the trains of the future. This new train, based on the Talgo 230 platform, will offer the highest standards of accessibility, as it will be the first long-distance train in Germany to allow full access at platform level and on a single floor. Its access without steps, and at platform level, is a characteristic of the trains manufactured by Talgo, which will facilitate the journey for all passengers. In addition, the ICE L will facilitate mobility inside the train and will have the highest performance.
With regard to the technical characteristics, the ICE L will consist of a multi-system locomotive (compatible with different power supply voltages and different signalling systems) and 17 passenger coaches, a number that can be adapted to demand at a later date, thanks to the train’s versatility. In addition to being used with the Talgo locomotive, these trains will be compatible with other tractor units, guaranteeing a very high level of interoperability: they will be international trains and in fact are planned to operate domestic routes in Germany, as well as connecting Germany with the Netherlands, Austria and the Swiss border.
The German operator Deutsche Bahn will use this train designed and manufactured by Talgo to promote the decarbonisation of mobility in Central Europe with long-distance services, thanks to the lighter weight of the vehicle and its lower energy consumption. This model, based on the Talgo 230 platform, will also be used by the Danish operator DSB to contribute to decarbonising mobility on its railway network.
The AVE to Mecca, the greatest technological challenge in railway history
With the high-speed rail project in Saudi Arabia (Haramain), Talgo faced what is probably the greatest technological challenge in the history of the railway: to supply a fleet of trains capable of running at more than 300 km/h in the most hostile environment on the planet. The Talgo 350 trains, thanks to their technical and constructive characteristics, can today withstand both extreme temperatures and the abrasive effects of desert sand.
The construction of the Talgo 350 for the Haramain led to the development of patents in areas as diverse as protection against dust and sand, passenger safety and comfort in extreme climates and new solutions to reduce wear between the wheel and the rail in the desert. The trains were adapted to the climate and geographical particularities, reinforcing the systems with the so-called “desert pack”, which incorporates more than 30 additional technologies specifically developed for this project. These technologies are aimed at making the train more efficient in all environmental conditions and improving maintenance efficiency.