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Interior of a 2nd class Corail ND VTU (B10tu, B11tu) coach
Corail is the name given to a class of passenger rail cars of the SNCF that first entered commercial service in 1975. When introduced, Corail carriages featured air-conditioning, and superior levels of comfort, suspension and sound-proofing than previous InterCity carriages and gave arguably the best ride of any European coach. When introduced, Corail carriages were painted in two tones of grey with a sharp flash of orange on the doors. At the time it was a huge investment by SNCF with more than 3000 carriages ordered, representing a massive leap in quality of service for Frenchmarker rail passengers. Most of the vehicles were still in service in 2008. Certain vehicles have been modernised and renamed: Corail Téoz for the day trains, Corail Lunéa for night trains.

The name Corail, which is also used as a designation of service for trains made up of these carriages, can be considered as a combination of 'comfort' and 'rail'.

The carriages were mainly built by a Franco-Belgian enterprise in Raismesmarker. Alstom also took part in the programme by assisting with the completion of the second class and buffet cars, and rebuilt between 2004 and 2008 some 2nd class cars with baggage compartments into new B5uxh cab-cars (UK=driving trailers).

Corail carriages are used throughout France on non-TGV locomotive-hauled services. Their use has gradually been reduced with the development and introduction of the TGV. Refurbished and upgraded Corail Téoz trains are deployed on trunk routes where no TGV services operate. As the TGV network has expanded, Corail trains have been cascaded down onto regional services.

Design features

  • Overall length: 26,4 m
  • Width: 2,825 m
  • Weight: 42 tonnes
  • Seats: 2nd class coach: 80 or 88 (according to type), 2nd class compartments: 88, 1st class coach: 58, 1st class compartments: 54 or 60, buffet car: 44 (other configurations exist).
  • Interior installation: 'Vtu' open “coach” (carraige with a single salon), or compartments
  • Bogies: Type Y 32 A
  • Maximum speed: 160 km/h or 200 km/h (according to type)

Corail today

Corail Lunéa services within France, 2007.
(Note that there are more international services not shown here.)
Despite having provided many years of reliable and comfortable intercity service, with the expansion of the TGV network the image of the Corail trains began to suffer. The SNCF responded by beginning to modernise the fleet in 1996. A new livery and refurbished interior was introduced as part of the "Corail Plus" programme. The bold orange doors become green for second class and red for first. These refurbishments of mainline Corail trains were soon considered to be insufficient, and in 2003 three heavily refurbished and re-fitted cars were revealed in Parismarker as the new Corail Téoz, featuring multicoloured exterior colour schemes and heavily modernised interiors.

Surplus carriages were sold to regional councils to be used for TER regional services. Certain regions use Corail coaches geared for 200 km/h operation (the rest are limited to 160 km/h) to operate fast regional services known as TER 200.

In 2005, the Corail family celebrated thirty years of service and they still provide a smoother ride than railway carriages in many other countries. Most cars ordered in the last twenty years have been diesel, electric and dual-mode railcars, and TGV trainsets, but with the most recent refurbishments, Corail coaches are expected to remain in service for at least another decade.

Corail Lunéa night trains operate on a number of domestic routes, offering a first and second class couchette service. Passengers travel in compartments of four or six bunks, and are provided with a pillow, lightweight bedsheet and blanket. Most Lunéa services also convey reclining seats cars.

See also

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