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Sapa wins Alstom contract for aluminium-intensive high-speed train bodies

Sapa will deliver to Alstom structural aluminium frames, solebars and end-wall profiles for rail carriages in high-speed trains that will be used by Amtrak in the United States.

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The aluminium solutions that Alstom has ordered from Sapa cover extrusion, machining, welding and kitting – in total, about 1,000 metric tons of extruded aluminium solutions. Deliveries will begin in May 2017 from Sapa’s upgraded operation in Lichtervelde, Belgium.

“This is the first major contract we have won since our press upgrade in Lichtervelde. We would not have been capable of meeting Alstom’s specifications without the investment,” says EVP John Thuestad, who is responsible for Sapa’s aluminium extrusion operations in Europe.

“One of the key points with the new press is that we can reduce wall thickness regardless of the application, without any reduction in strength.”

Larger, thinner-walled aluminium products

By increasing the force at its large aluminium extrusion press in Lichtervelde from 6,500 to 8,200 tonnes, Sapa can extrude 6xxx-series profiles that are up to 620 mm wide and up to 26 meters long, with an extremely thin wall thickness down to 1.6 mm.

This reduces the amount of aluminium used in the section and lightens an already weight-saving solution, without sacrificing strength.

World’s safest high-speed trains

Sapa’s deliveries are tied to Alstom’s commitment to design and build 28 new high-speed trains for Amtrak. The trains will run between Boston and Washington D.C.

The train ordered by Amtrak is Avelia Liberty, the latest development in Alstom’s high-speed train range Avelia and considered among the most advanced, reliable and safest trains in the world. It benefits from the 36 years of experience of the Avelia range of high-speed trains, which have traveled more than 6 billion km and transported four billion passengers in 20 countries at speeds of up to 320 km/h.

Avelia Liberty is designed to minimize the weight to reduce the impact on infrastructure. Energy consumption is reduced by more than 15 percent, thanks in large part to its use of lightweight aluminium solutions.

Amtrak says the new trainset will increase passenger capacity, offer more frequent service, minimize journey times, and improve operating costs and energy efficiency.