The TGV 001 (Train Grande Vitesse 001) was an experimental high-speed railway train built in France. This train was the very first TGV prototype. The prototype was commissioned in 1969, and testing of the train began in 1972.
The TGV 001 was part of a vast research program studying high speed rail technology. The program covered all technical aspects of the train, such as traction, behaviour of the vehicle on the tracks, braking, aerodynamics, and signalling. The initial plan was to construct two TGV's , but in the end only one was produced. According to Wikipedia, "The second was to be a tilting train equipped with an active tilting system, but was abandoned owing to technical difficulties".
The TGV 001 was unique, design-wise. It utilised an experimental gas turbine-electric locomotive. This system proved very effective. It managed to break the land speed record for a railed vehicle, achieving 318 kilometres per hour. It fact, it broke the 300 kilometre per hour barrier some 175 times!
After the oil crisis of 1973, the cost of oil skyrocketed. This increase made gas-powered trains - like the TGV - no longer economically feasible. Testing on the TGV officially concluded on 19 July 1978.
On 2 September 1974, France issued a stamp commemorating the TGV 001 experimental train. The stamp was designed and engraved by Claude Haley. It was printed in Rotary Intaglio in three colours.
I'm not usually much of a fan of trains on stamps, but I really like the way Haley has conveyed a sense of speed in this image. The curved lines of air whoosing over the locomotive and the slightly blurred features on the nose of the train combine to create a sense of power and speed. Overall, a great design.
Until next time...