Europe has a long history of high speed locomotive and power unit development. This paper focuses on these developments in Sweden, Germany, Switzerland and Spain starting from high speed locomotives for 125 mph and ending with the AVE S112 high speed power unit for 206 mph. The major technical objectives starting in the 1970’s were to increase the speed and performance, while reducing the axle load from typically 21t at 125 mph to 17t at ≥ 156 mph. Developments of the propulsion system and vehicle concepts took place in many incremental steps, constantly improving the performance of high speed services. It is shown how American high speed locomotives relate to these developments and how one can learn from the European experience going forward.

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