Amtrak Talgo Pendular

Remember the unusual looking low-sitting trainset from the pictures I’ve posted last week? Yes they look quite uncommon for those of us who live outside of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, because so far, they have been unique to the region. Those sleek looking passenger cars are called Talgo Pendular articulated passive tilting cars manufactured by Talgo from Spain (another example of the Talgo is the AVE S-102).


Passenger trains can usually travel at faster speeds safely around curves than they are allowed to, but not comfortably. To enable the full speed potential of these trains around curves, minimise energy loss and wear on the brake system by slowing down, tilting trains have been developed for rail lines where the alignment of the right of way cannot be altered to construct gentler curves. Tilting trains can be active or passive. Active tilting trains decide on a tilting angle from computations performed on the inputs of an array of sensors that tells the train speed, acceleration, curvature, etc. Sounds like a great idea, but it is relatively more complex to design, construct, and of course, maintain. Passive tilting trains do not do any of the above. Mechanical linkages actuate the tilting mechanism to a preset value based on curvature only. Now on to the part where the Talgo Pendular is articulated. Rather than individual cars sitting on a set of two trucks, articulated share trucks between cars (a good example would be the French TGV and AGV, A for automotrice). In Talgo’s case, cars actually share single-axle trucks due to their short length and light load, which is quite a unique feature to this specific manufacture as well.

This picture provides a good view of the single-axle trucks

Currently the Talgo Pendular cares are only used on the Amtrak Cascades route (between Vancouver BC and Eugene OR) over BNSF and Union Pacific supported by Washington and Oregon Departments of Transport. However these cars are also on order for the Hiawatha service over the Canadian Pacific between Chicago and Milwaukee. Soon enough, passengers from the Midwest will also be able to experience the smooth European style ride the Talgo cars provide. Below I share with you an official video made by Talgo on the upcoming trainsets for the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest.

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