French Railways numbering scheme
SNCF does not have a clear, uniform numbering scheme such as the German
scheme, but nevertheless some information can be gained from a vehicle's
Electric locomotives are usually numbered according to which type of
voltage they can run from.
The first two (or sometimes three) numbers identify the particular type of
locomotive. The last two (or sometimes three) numbers identify the number of
the locomotive within the series. There is no precise set of rules for
determining the type of locomotive from the number, other than which voltages
it can run from. You have to remember which is which! Some examples:
- 0 - 9999: 1500 V DC
- 10000 - 19999: 25 kV 50 Hz
- 20000 - 29999: 1500 V DC and 25 kV 50 Hz
- 30000 - 39999: 1500 V DC, 25 kV 50 Hz, and one other voltage
- 40000 - 49999: 1500 V DC, 25 kV 50 Hz, and two other voltages
- This locomotive is the 43rd from the 15000 series. In this case, the first
digit (10000's) tells you this locomotive can run from 25 kV 50 Hz only, but
otherwise you have to remember which type of locomotive this is, and where the
- This locomotive is the 13th from the 25000 series, and is also
- This locomotive also is bivoltage... but not from the 25000 series. It is
from the 25500 series, which is completely different. There is no way to know
this other than learning it.
The TGV numbering scheme is just as confusing as for the electric locomotives.
There are two layers for the numbering scheme. One number is assigned to each
trainset, which consists of two power units and 8 to 10 trailers. The trainset
number is found on the side of the nose.
Within each trainset, each vehicle has its own number. The power units are
numbered in the electric locomotive scheme described above, with the prefix
TGV. PSE units are numbered in the 23000 series, Atlantique units in the 24000
series, bivoltage Réseau units in the 28000 series, and trivoltage
Réseau units in the 38000 series.
- 1-118: TGV PSE
- 301-405: TGV Atlantique
- 501-580: TGV Réseau, bivoltage
- 4501-4530: TGV Réseau, trivoltage
- 201-230: TGV Duplex (enters service in mid 1996)
Trailers are prefixed TGVR, where the R stands for "remorque", or trailer. The
first two digits are the same as for the power units. The third digit
identifies the number of the trailer in the trainset. The last three (or four)
digits repeat the trainset number.
On the TGV PSE trainsets, the trailers immediately adjacent to the power units
also have one powered bogie. Because of this, they are numbered like EMU's,
with a Z. The prefix is thus TGVZR. Some examples:
- TGV 28014: Power unit number 2 of bivoltage Réseau trainset
- TGVR 244325: The fourth trailer of Atlantique trainset 325.
- TGVZR 338117: The 8th trailer (powered) of trivoltage PSE trainset
Diesels fall into the 60000 and 70000 series.
Shunters, EMUs, DMUs
Shunters (all diesel) have the 'Y' prefix.
EMUs have the 'Z' prefix.
DMUs have the 'X' prefix.
The specific numbering is confusing, and detailed knowledge of the numbers is
necessary to identify the different types. Recent EMU numbers tend to resemble
the electric locomotive numbering scheme.
Vehicles not owned by SNCF, but of a type similar to an SNCF series, are
numbered according to SNCF practices, but prefixed with a 9. Example: the
postal TGV power units, numbered in the 923000 series.
For electric and diesel locomotives, numbers used to be preceded by a letter
prefix corresponding to the wheel arrangement. In the late 1980's, this
practice was discontinued. For example, BB 22200 became 22200, and A1AA1A 68000
became 68000. The prefix was discontinued because it was redundant, and also
because it made locomotive numbers more difficult to handle on computer
systems. (Strangely enough, TGV's kept their prefix, which serves no purpose
since their numbers identify them unambiguously.)
Clem Tillier (email@example.com) - February 1995