In June of 1992 the participating SNCF, SNCB, DB, and NS railroads agreed on a common vehicle for the high speed service between Paris, Brussels, Cologne, and Amsterdam (PBKA). These four-current PBKA high speed trains with their characteristic paint scheme in Bordeaux red and gray metallic are a further development of the TGV and are marketed under the product name “THALYS”. These trains have been running since December 14, 1997 from Paris to Brussels and then further to Amsterdam or Cologne.
Externally, the Thalys PBKA with its rounded ends resembles the TGV-Duplex, but technically it related to the TGV-Réseau, the third generation of the TGV. The Thalys PBKA was around 50% more expensive to buy than the TGV-Réseau because it must handle four different current systems and seven different signaling systems, which its on-board computer recognizes automatically. The Thalys is designed for both left and right hand running. For that reason the engineer’s control panel was arranged in the middle. The most important operating elements are present on both sides. The pressure of the pantograph against the catenary is automatically regulated depending on the speed, direction, and power network. This allows it to adapt to all kinds of catenary designs. The power and the operating speed depend on the current system.
A train set consists of two powered end cars and eight intermediate cars. The intermediate cars are connected with each other by means of Jakobs trucks and thereby form an operational unit. Five intermediate cars (one with a bar) are for passengers traveling 2nd class and three intermediate cars are set up for 1st class. There are a total of 377 seats in the approximately 200 meter / 65 foot 7 inch long Thalys. Since their introduction these trains have undergone an intensive program of updating with the following innovations: a new interior and a new look in flaming red and silver – borrowed from the previous Thalys colors but with new graphic elements.