Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) is a major French public enterprise. Its functions include operation of rail services for passengers and freight and maintenance of rail infrastructure owned by RFF (Réseau Ferré de France). It employs about 180,000 people. The rail network consists of about 32,000 km of route, of which 1,500 km is high-speed line and 14,500 km is electrified. About 14,000 trains are operated daily. SNCF's high-speed train (TGV) has set many world speed records, the most recent on 3 April 2007, when a new version of the TGV, dubbed the V150, with larger wheels than the usual TGV, was able to cover more ground with each rotation. With a stronger 25,000-horsepower engine it broke the world speed record for conventional rail trains, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph). SNCF will participate in the SAFERAIL project through its test laboratory which is part of the SNCF Rolling Stock Department. The laboratory also provides services to other main rail industry companies through EURAILTEST, such as Alstom, Bombardier Transport, Siemens and UIC. The test laboratory is based in Vitry-on-Seine, near Paris and currently employs 250 skilled engineers. The main research activities of the laboratory include simulation tests, on-line measurements, NDT, acoustics, aerodynamic, traction, braking, railway dynamics, structural strength, endurance of mechanical components, metallic materials, vibrations and reliability.
Role in the project
SNCF's involvement in SAFERAIL, through its test laboratory, permits the company's active participation in several project tasks, including the development of both the on-line and UT-ACFM components. SNCF will also permit the validation and testing of the on-line system by making available their test railway and vehicles. It will also be involved in the validation and testing of the UT-ACFM system by making available wheel sets to be used as samples.
Reason for participating
SNCF endeavours to ensure that maximum operational reliability of its rolling stock and infrastructure is achieved. The company has a strong interest in maintenance issues related to its rolling stock, and wheel sets are of particular importance. Novel NDT and condition monitoring techniques belong to SNCF's permanent concern. Through its participation in SAFERAIL, SNCF expects to acquire the necessary knowledge to achieve maximum reliability of wheel sets. SNCF's participation will benefit the consortium as the company will assist in the dissemination of results to the rest of the European rail industry.