Talgo was able to remove 50% of the weight of the running gear frames for high-speed trains by using carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites. The reduction in the tare weight of the train improves the energy consumption of the train and therefore the passenger capacity among other benefits.  

Running gear frames, also known as rodals, are the second heaviest structural component of a high-speed train and have strict structural resistance requirements. Traditional running gear frames are made of welded steel plates and are subject to fatigue because of the geometry and the welding process. The team at Talgo saw an opportunity to replace the steel running gear frames and studied a number of materials and processes, discovering that carbon fiber reinforced polymers were the best option. Talgo successfully completed full-scale validation of structural requirements, including static and fatigue tests, as well as non-destructive testing (NDT) testing. Fire-Smoke-Toxicity (FST) standards were met thanks to hand lay-up of the CFRP prepreg. Weight reduction is another clear benefit to the use of CFRP materials. 

The CFRP running gear frames were developed for the Avril high-speed train. Next steps for Talgo include operating the rodal under real conditions for final approval as well as expanding development for other commuter vehicles. The new components will lead to reduced energy consumption and less wear and tear on the tracks because of the lighter weight of the train.  

Learnings from the rodal project will also assist in implementing a new set of rail standards around the acceptance process of new materials (CEN/TC 256/SC 2/WG 54). 

Talgo’s project is supported by the European Commission through the Shift2Rail (S2R). S2R’s vision is to deliver, through railway research and innovation, the capabilities to bring about the most sustainable, cost-efficient, high-performing, time driven, digital, and competitive customer-centered transport mode for Europe.