11 years in Suite Rapide for France
Over 2,100 km renewed by GCF-Transalp's convoys
Eleven years of fast renovation, more than 2,100 kilometres of ballast renewal and track, rail and sleeper replacements. With 2023, the GCF-Transalp's railways are sealing a commitment that in 132 months has seen them operate more than 60 renovation sites in 'Suite Rapide', and they are preparing to tackle further and quickly, new sites planned in France in 2024.
New Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire, Haute-France, and Provence-Côte d'Azur will be the setting for the next jobs for GCF-Transalp's powerful Suite Rapide convoys now known throughout France.
"Modular 'mobile factories” that, driven by Matisa P95 renewal trains or the powerful Matisa C75 resurfacing machines, consist of the best and most high-performance operating machines.
These days, after the Christmas break, the Lamothe site in New Aquitaine will reopen to complete the fifth phase of renewal works along the 650,000 Bordeaux - Irun line: an intervention between Laluque and Dax (from pk 136+193 to pk 144+000), on a section made complex by the presence of numerous level crossings, will allow the renewal of ballast and track (for about 3 km) and the replacement of ballast and sleepers for about 1,500 metres. By the end of phase 4, the P95 renewal train - four days ahead of schedule - had laid 117,000 new concrete TBA sleepers and renewed 70,328 metres of track, while the C75 resurfacing train had renewed 62,500 metres of ballast.
At the end of the work, scheduled for January, 150,000 tonnes of ballast, 125,800 TBA sleepers, 108,736 mt of new rail will have been renewed.
In addition to the completion of the Lamothe site, 2024 will see GCF-Transalp involved in 4 other Suite Rapide sites: in Limoges, the capital of the Haute Vienne department in the New Aquitaine region; in Le Mans, the capital of the Sarthe department in the Pays de la Loire region; in Château-Thierry in the Aisne department of the Haute-France region; and in Cavaillon in the Vaucluse department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.
In addition, the French railways will see GCF involved, either as agent or in a grouping, in a further three 'Hors Suite' sites planned for the renovation of the Bourges - Montluçon lines in Auvergne, the ligne des Horlogers in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, and a 35-kilometre section of the ligne d'Aubrac in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.
Many investments have been made by GCF-Transalp Renouvellement in the eleven years of French Suite Rapide, starting with the Pau-Dax site in January 2013.
The doubling of the Suite Rapide trainsets (of the three operating in France, two are owned by GCF-Transalp) has been the culmination of a continuous effort to improve efficiency and enhancement that has involved the employees - subjected to thousands of hours of training - and the fleet: not only the 'top trains' but also the complementary machinery used on the tracks as well as in the sites.
The latest arrivals, in 2023, are an ACX 24RR Hydrostatique road/rail loader with ACX R23T trailer, with a lifting capacity of 7 tonnes, the V212 RC locomotive with a maximum mass of 66.45 tonnes and a power output of 1,400 hp, the Plasser 109-3X dynamic tamping machine which, having completed the preliminary test phases, will soon make its debut on the SNCF tracks.
With its 450 employees, each "suite rapide" - a high-tech convoy hundreds of metres long - moves mostly at night along a line, moving tonnes of material and returning each morning with a completely renewed section up to 1 kilometre long that can be travelled by trains immediately. Not only has the crushed stone been replaced, the old sleepers - often still made of wood - have been removed and replaced with concrete ones, and the new rails have been placed: at the same time, the suite has tamped, levelled and stabilised the renewed section, and finally cleared the site of all waste materials that can be disposed of or recycled.
Read more: Suite Rapide