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Alstom at the heart of the Marathon project: the longest train in Europe


Alstom has been playing an active role in the Marathon project since its launch in 2011 by the European Commission and 15 other European industrial partners. The Marathon project consists of coupling two trains to form a single 1,500 metre long train. This technological feat is a first in Europe. 

An innovative radio command system connects the lead locomotive driven by a driver to the driverless locomotive, located in the middle of the train and commanded by remote control by the driver of the first locomotive.

With this type of train it is possible to double the number of goods wagons and thereby optimize operation of the national rail network.

The advantages include increasing rail freight capacity, traffic grouping to accomplish economies of scale and thereby reduce operating costs.

Alstom is making its expertise available to freight operators, in particular for the Marathon project. On 18 January, SNCF and RFF successfully ran a first 1,500 metre long train in France between Lyon and Nîmes.

For these first tests, Alstom supplied two BB 37000 locomotives as well as technical support for the integration on the locomotives of the specific equipment for the project (radio command systems, brake command) as well as for the test phase itself.

The French site at Belfort, the Alstom world Excellence Centre for locomotives, possesses expertise that has already attracted many customers in France, Great Britain, Iran, Morocco and the United States for the Prima range, for the 2ES5 [1] in Russia, and recently in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan for the KZ8A [2] locomotives.


[1] Developed with Alstom’s Russian partner, Transmashholding (TMH).
[2] Developed in partnership with TMH and KTZ, the Kazakh Railways.