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Alaris
RENFE - Alaris.jpg
Info
Locale Madrid and Valencia, Spain
Operation
Operator(s) RENFE

Alaris is the brand name of the regional rail network run by the Spanish national rail company RENFE that connects the major cities of Madrid and Valencia. Alaris services currently use ETR 490 trainsets, as well as S-120 and S-130 units.

Contents

History

Midway through the 1990s, RENFE realised that needed to replace its old Talgo III trains which had run on the line for over thirty years. As a replacement, RENFE looked for new railcars that could run at high speeds on electric lines.

After searching throughout the ideas of multiple companies, RENFE chose a conglomeration of GEC, Alstom, and FIAT Ferroviaria as the winners of a bid to develop new trains for the network titled ETR 490, similar to the ETR 470 trains used on the Italian Cisalpino network.

The new units were put into service on a new line between Madrid and Valencia via Albacete with emphasis on high speed, quality, and comfort. Although originally known as InterCity 2000, RENFE did not believe that the name was representative of the service, RENFE decided to rename the service "Alaris." RENFE then rebranded and repainted its trainsets and other publicity to show the new logo.

An Alaris trainset from Madrid Atocha station approachin Silla.

Technical details ETR 490

At introduction of the Alaris service only ETR 490 units have been used for this service. Therefore these trainsets are often known as Alaris themselves.

Unlike other members of the Pendolino rail family, the ETR 490 trainset is composed of only three cars: two motors vehicles, with driving cabs, and a trailer vehicle in the centre. Its motor system is similar to that of an electric multiple unit because its pantograph is not located on a locomotive. The motor cars on either end of the train contain a pair of motor bogies, with one asynchronous motors per bogie. Static and other converters are also located underneath the motor cars.

The central passenger car is divided into two spaces: half is passenger seating while the other part is a bar and restaurant. A section of this car is also dedicated to people with mobility and accessibility impairments. The dimensions of the ETR 490 are reduced compared to its Italian model. These dimensions favour aerodynamic stability and speed. The cars are also built out of lighter materials that allow the train to move faster and put less stress on the tracks. The power consumption of the Alaris trainset is considerably less than the Italian ETR 460, almost reduced by one third.

The tilting mechanism of the ETR 490 is quite similar to that of the second and third generation Pendolino series, controlled by gyroscopes, devices measuring oscillation, and speedometres. The tilt is limited to eight degrees when fully activated when compared to a horizontal surface. Disk brakes control pneumatic and rheostatic braking.

Service quality

Alaris is a medium/high profile rail service, very similar to aeroplanes business class, with stewardess, restaurant/snack bar, press service, personal multimedia stations, free automobile parking and baby sitter services. Alaris machines were manufactured by Fiat Ferroviaria and then by Alstom, and can maintain a moderate continuous speed of 200 km/h (125 mph).

Criticism

Despite its new and modern trains, higher focus on quality and speed, and modernity, Alaris has been criticised. Most critics point to a few main details where Alaris does not meet expectations.

  • Alaris only has a thirteen minute improvement over the previous train (InterCity UT-448) that used the system.
  • There are only 160 seats on the new Alaris trains, while the InterCity UT-448 trains had 206 seats available in each car. This means that it takes less time for trains to be full and passengers must now make reservations beforehand to ensure that there is a seat available for them.
  • Current prices for the Alaris are more expensive than those of the original rail service and features such as the BonoCity (four trips between Madrid and Valencia) have ceased to exist, therefore increasing the price that one must pay to use the service.

External links

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