TGV: when Alstom wins a contract in Sweden thanks to Bombardier

Posted Apr 6, 2022, 4:19 PMUpdated on Apr 6, 2022, 6:29 PM

Good news for Alstom. The French rail manufacturer confirmed on Wednesday the sale of 25 high-speed trains to Swedish operator SJ, with an option for 15 more trains. The value of the contract amounts to 650 million euros.

However, these trains have nothing (or not much) in common with the TGVs that the manufacturer has been selling to the SNCF for decades. And for good reason: the bid that won the market was initially submitted by Bombardier Transportation. In the meantime, Alstom has bought out its Canadian competitor and has therefore recovered this fine order by ricochet. The rolling stock that will be delivered therefore comes from Bombardier’s catalog and bears its original name, Zefiro Express.

Better export chances

This commercial victory shows Alstom’s interest in having acquired Bombardier to expand its range, even if the operation also led to unpleasant surprises. For long-distance journeys, the Saint-Ouen group could until now offer its Pendolino trains, but its best known and most proven offer remains the TGV.

However, this train as it circulates in France has only very limited prospects for export. The SNCF, which is by far its largest customer, has only been asking for double-decker trains for thirty years, for reasons of rail tolls specific to France, while other operators prefer single-decker trains.

The TGV too expensive

In addition, very high-speed trains (when the speed of circulation can reach or exceed 300 km/h) remain an extremely limited market in the world, due to the billions of euros needed to equip the lines. Less prestigious, but also much less expensive in terms of rolling stock and infrastructure, high-speed trains (capable of traveling at 200 to 300 km/h) represent a much more promising niche. The Zefiro Express, with its 250 km/h top speed, is another chance to stand out.

In future calls for tenders, this equipment will however be renamed and will become one of the components of Alstom’s Avelia range. In order not to harm competition in the very high speed segment, Brussels imposed during the takeover of Bombardier that the big brother of the Zefiro Express, the Zefiro V300 (as fast as its name suggests) be completely sold to its co-designer Hitachi. this is to avoid future confusion between the two manufacturers.