Although Thalys celebrates a very symbolic anniversary this year, 2016 also marks the start of a large-scale project for the thorough maintenance of all its trains, which will continue until 2021. This project is extremely technically demanding and will include the restyling of both the inside and the outside of the trains. To explain:
“Our 26 trains are the mainstay of our service. They embody the very best aspects of European railway technology. With completely updated technology and brand new red livery, they will ensure that we can offer our customers the best possible comfort and look to the future of Thalys with ambition” explained Agnès Ogier, CEO of Thalys, when the first refurbished train was put into service on Friday, 7 October.
Suitable for the four traction supply systems and the nine safety systems in effect on the different lines on which they run, the trains enable Thalys to cross three borders every day, between France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. In 2008-2009, the interior of each train was completely refurbished at the same time as the brand new European signalling system “ERTMS” (European Railway Transport Management System) was installed on board.
This new refurbishment programme mainly concentrates on the trains’ metal structure. One by one, each train will be totally dismantled so that all the inspection and improvement measures can be implemented. These range from cleaning to repairs, including anti-corrosion treatment. The scope of the work can be measured in kilometres of cables or even in thousands of working hours (45 000 working hours per train). With one train being refurbished every two months, this “mid-life” project, a term used by the railway industry, will continue until 2021, so as to ensure that it does not affect the Thalys timetable.
This programme is being run by the teams at the SNCF Technicentre Hellemmes, located in the north of France, while ongoing maintenance is mainly carried out at the Forest SNCB centre in Brussels.
Inside and outside
While the work is predominantly technical, Thalys is also aiming to maintain its trains’ extremely high level of comfort, thanks to the refurbishment of the carpeting and seat covers. The fuchsia pink colour of some Comfort 2 seats is now disappearing, replaced instead by burgundy and red. On the outside, the completely repainted trains are getting a real facelift: with freshly painted red doors and the addition of a red stripe along the lower part of the train, in an effort to reinforce the brand identity.
Thalys: 1996 - 2016
In 20 years Thalys has become more than a brand – it is a European symbol. As a symbol of Europe, Thalys and its red trains represent a vibrant Europe of intermingled Dutch, French, German and English, where travellers from all over the world come together.
Founded in 1996, Thalys is also the only truly multicultural rail service to have successfully risen to the challenge of international high speed railway transport across four countries. Although travel times are still varied (1 hour 22 minutes to travel to Brussels, 3 hours 14 minutes to reach Cologne and 3 hours 17 minutes for Amsterdam), Thalys helps to bring the cultures and economies of four European countries closer.
Thalys also serves the three German cities of Düsseldorf, Duisburg and Essen, and opened a new connection to Dortmund in March 2016. Since April 2014, Thalys has also provided a link between Lille and Amsterdam. On 3 April 2016, Thalys launched the first IZY trains on the new alternative low-cost service between Paris and Brussels.
Upholding its motto “Welcome to our World”, Thalys is a constant innovator and has created an outstanding offer which is used as a point of reference by companies around the world, including ergonomic comfort, a warm and multi-lingual welcome, a quality catering service and an outstanding range of services in Comfort 1. Customers can also take advantage of the Thalys TheCard loyalty programme to accumulate “Miles”and benefit from a range of services. It is available to all passengers on the website (www.thalys.com). Pioneering the use of WiFi on board high speed trains since 2008, Thalys now offers free WiFi to all passengers in both Comfort 1 and Comfort 2.
In order to increase efficiency and fluidity, and to further improve service and customer satisfaction, Thalys became a fully fledged railway undertaking on 1 April 2015.