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AVE Series 103

S-103 electric rail car data sheet

Based on the ICE 3 of the German railway (DB), the AVE Series 103 is a self-propelled train that is capable of connecting Madrid to Barcelona or Madrid to Málaga in 150 minutes thanks to the 8800 kW of power that allow it to reach 350 km/h. One of the main characteristics of the 103 series is that it has distributed traction located on the undercarriage of the composition, so it has no tractor heads and the entire interior space is used to transport passengers. This means 20 percent more space than other trains of the same size. It also incorporates novelties such as the possibility of allowing passengers to have the same view as the driver through an adjustable, phototropic glass divider between the passenger lounge and the driver's cab.



The entire structure of the bodies is made of aluminium, thereby significantly reducing the train's weight in comparison with other trains of similar characteristics. The complete composition has 8 cars, with the interior layout around a central aisle, except for the cafeteria car. The cafeteria has a luminous interior with a bar, and part of this car is used to offer other services, such as a customer service room and rooms for train personnel and for checked baggage. The access doors, which are at the ends of each car, provide access to open-space design passenger lounges with seats distributed on both sides of the aisle. The driver's cab and the seats of the Club class are located in the first car, with a meeting room around a seven-seat desk. The second and third cars are First class and the fourth car is the Cafeteria car. It is followed by four Standard class cars, in which there is another space in the final position, like the Club class meeting room, located behind the driver's cab.

From a technical point of view, the composition is divided into two identical semi-trains that have the same equipment, although with different classes.

Driver's cab

The driver's cab is broad and ergonomic, and it has a layered and tinted front windscreen for protection from the sun. There is an electrically operated visor at the bottom, plus another one at the top, which also protects the cab thermally.

Traction and auxiliary systems

The basic special feature of the train is its distributed traction, which distributes the traction and auxiliary equipment on the undercarriages along the entire length of the composition. So on this train there are no traditional power cars, which are replaced by two traction units of four cars each, or semi-trains.

All the electrical equipment is distributed throughout the train, with 50 percent of the axles motorised, thereby favouring and enabling better adherence and acceleration conditions, at the same time distributing the mass per axle (approximately 15 tonnes each). This low mass reduces the aggressiveness on the track and lowers the infrastructure maintenance costs.

The distributed traction allows the train to travel with either eight cars or four. The distribution of the masses does not change, and even if the power is reduced by half, 50 percent of the axles remain motorised. There is redundancy in the event of equipment failure.

Each motor, located on cars 1, 3, 6 and 8, has 550 kW of power and is installed on the bogie frame itself, positioned parallel to the axle that it drives and coupled by means of a flexible assembly. The distribution of the traction equipment on half of the axles means that the traction forces are transmitted to the rail more safely and efficiently, under conditions of low adherence.

The 16 motors of this train line are three-phase asynchronous, they guarantee longer times of use, and they require low maintenance.

All the train's functions are managed by an integrated control system that collects, processes and transmits the data, thereby facilitating maintenance, given that all the train's operational data and incidents can be obtained by simply consulting the system. These data can be transmitted by GSM mobile telephony to the maintenance centre, thereby allowing an advance forecast of the maintenance and repair tasks to be performed on the train.

Bogies and brakes

The bogies, already used on the ICE 3 of DB, contribute to optimum behaviour on the track while providing maximum stability and excellent ride comfort. They have been especially designed to travel at high speed and with high mileage, by means of:

  • A primary suspension by coil springs.
  • A secondary vertical suspension.
  • Sensor systems that report any operating problem.
  • Anti-tilting devices.
  • Sander supports on the motor bogies.

The first of the cars with a cab incorporates four motors, one on each of the two axles and of the two bogies, which are powered independently by a single converter. On the second car, the two bogies are carrying bogies, where the input transformers and reactors are located. The four bogies are motorised on the third car, which has a single converter. All the bogies on the fourth car are carrying bogies, and on the undercarriage it contains the remainder of the auxiliary equipment of a half-train. The four remaining cars of the other semi-train have the same configuration as the first four cars. The antennas of the ERTMS, LZB and ASFA systems are located on the end bogies.

The traction units are independent, and as a result, if a failure occurs on any unit, it can be disconnected without influencing the remaining units, thus allowing the train to reach its destination with 75 percent of the traction and braking power. Even more important than this train's great acceleration capacity is its braking power, thanks to an electric brake that allows automatically switching between recovery brake operation and rheostatic brake operation. The recovery brake is preferably used, although in the event that the power grid cannot absorb the electric braking energy of the traction motors, it progressively switches to the rheostatic electric brake.


The coupling used on the 103 series is the automatic Scharfenberg coupler, which allows the trains to travel in a double composition. It is compatible with the rail cars of the 252 series and the AVEs of the 100 series.

Control systems

The train of the 103 series is equipped with the ERTMS signalling system, levels 1 and 2, installed on the Madrid-Barcelona line; equipped with a system that is compatible with the LZB and that allows the train to travel on the Madrid-Seville line; and equipped with the ASFA system as a backup, which is used on both lines. All the train's functions are managed by an integrated system that collects, processes and transmits the data, thereby allowing maintenance tasks to be simplified and sped up and allowing all the train's operational data and incidents to be obtained. These data can be transmitted by GSM mobile telephony to the maintenance centre, thereby allowing an advance forecast of the maintenance and repair tasks to be performed.

Technical Specifications

  • Minimum composition: Eight cars (Mc-R-M-R-R-M-R-Rc).
  • Multiple composition: Two compositions.
  • Track gauge: 1435 mm.
  • Body structure: Aluminium.
  • Maximum speed (km/h): 350 km/h.
  • Seating capacity per unit: 404/405.
  • Traction motors: 16 asynchronous.
  • Total power on the wheels: 8800 kW.
  • Power per motor: 550 kW.
  • Transformers: 2.
  • Traction converters: 4, GTO technology.
  • Braking: Regenerative, rheostatic and pneumatic.
  • Pneumatic disk brakes: 80.
  • Recovery brakes: 16.
  • Brake resistor blocks: 4.
  • Braking distance (320 to 0 km/h): 3900 m.
  • Acceleration (0 to 320 km/h): 380 s.
  • No. of axles: 32 (16 motor axles).
  • No. of bogies: 16 (8 motor bogies).
  • Distribution: Bo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'+2'2'+Bo'Bo'.
  • Wheel diameter: 920 mm.
  • Signalling systems: ERTMS, levels 1 and 2; ASFA; STM of LZB.

Weights and Dimensions

  • Total train length: 200 m.
  • Length of end cars: 25,675 mm.
  • Length of intermediate cars: 24,775 mm.
  • Width of the body: 2950 mm.
  • Height: 3890 mm.
  • Unladen weight in running order: 425 t.
  • Load per axle: 15 t.

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