Tilting train

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A tilting train is a train that has a mechanism enabling increased speed on regular rail tracks. As a train (or other vehicle) rounds a curve at speed, objects inside the train experience centrifugal force. This can cause packages to slide about or seated passengers to feel squashed by the outboard armrest due to its centripetal force, and standing passengers to lose their balance. Tilting trains are designed to counteract this discomfort. In a curve to the left the train tilts to the left to compensate for the g-force push to the right, and vice versa. The train may be constructed such that inertial forces cause the tilting (passive tilt), or it may have a computer-controlled power mechanism (active tilt).

The first tilting train regularly put into public service was the ETR 401 run by Italian State Railways, which became operational on 2 July 1976 on the Rome-Ancona (later extended to Rimini) line. The first tilting trains used passive tilt, as the Spanish Talgo Pendular operational since 1980. This technology was not fully implemented world-wide as the marginally increased curve speeds did not justify the extra expense and technology in many cases. The British Advanced Passenger Train (being operational from 1984 to 1985) was the first to successfully implement active tilt increasing speeds significantly on tight rail curves. Active tilting is the mechanism most widely used today.

The most successful active tilt trains of note in operation is the Italian Pendolino, partially based on the Advanced Passenger Train. The most successful passive tilting train is the Spanish Talgo.

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