As part of the development of technologies to enable longer, a faster and heavier train which is the principle objective of Marathon, the first trials of such trains took place in January 2014 in France. This test put into trial operation two Alstom electric powered locomotives provided by Akeim, and two Vossloh supplied diesel traction trains. These locomotives was used as part of Marathon train to be operated by Kombiverkehr between Sibelin (Lyon) to Nimes.
For those who need reminding the concept of Marathon train is basically in effect two trains couple together, maintaining the locomotive (s) in the middle and front of the train, and where the middle loco (s) are controlled via an radio communication link with the driver operating the front loco. The length envisaged of such Marathon trains is up 1.5km
These initial tests was conducted up to a speed of 100 km/h, on a total of commercial trains at a mass of 4000t. It is foreseen by the Marathon project that such implementation of trains will lead to a 5% energy reduction per tonne of transported goods, and a potential 30 % overall cost reduction. It is expected that performance of these longer trains will be similar to those of 750m in length with only small increase in overall braking time required for the train to stop level crossing for example.
The Marathon project is expected to conclude and provide its final outcomes in the latter part of 2014, and it is hoped with the realisation and implementation of the Marathon outcomes into commercial operation will start in the second half of decade. The realistic target being that between 5-10% of trains operating on the main European corridors being Marathon style trains.