Europe’s longest freight train completed a second phase of trials in mid-April, designed to validate the technical feasibility of a double train ahead of a possible commercial launch. These trials were conducted by Fret SNCF and RFF between Sibelin yard near Lyon and Nîmes. Two 750-metre long consists were joined together at Sibelin marshalling yard (Rhône) to form a 4000-tonne 1500m-long train hauled by two locomotives. Technically, the innovation focuses on a radio control system which makes it possible to link the head locomotive manned by a driver with the driverless locomotive situated in the middle of the train. A double train such as this can transport up to 70 wagons compared to 35 wagons carried by a conventional 750-metre long train.
This second test operation took place with existing rolling stock: two Euro 4000 diesel locomotives built by Vossloh. On 18 January, two Alstom Class BB 37000 electric locomotives were tested. The test train consisted of an 820-metre long train (two 410-metre trains joined together) coupled to the back of a second locomotive (known as a slave locomotive) and hauling another 620-metre train. The trial run was the result of two years of preparation and static testing.