Protecting the environment

At SNCF, we’re using eco-friendly solutions to reduce the environmental impacts of transporting passengers and freight. Find out how.

Our energy policy

In 2016, SNCF Group adopted “Our energy: Creating value for SNCF Group”, an energy policy that guides all activities within SNCF and our subsidiaries. This new policy is built on five key strategies.

Key strategies

  • Boost economic performance
    Streamline purchasing, manage economic risks in volatile markets and save energy by reducing consumption—on the principle that the best purchase is the one we don’t make.
  • Play an active role in the energy transition
    Cut energy consumption by focusing on green driving practices and “decarbonize” by favouring renewable energies. Transform our fleet of diesel locomotives by converting to hybrid power and ultimately replacing them with electric locomotives by 2050.
  • Make SNCF Group an energy influencer
    Play a dominant role in the energy sector, advancing both our interests and those of the general public.
  • Innovate
    Seize new business opportunities, such as hybrid TER trains and stationary hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Make a plan and put it into action
    Create the conditions required to reduce energy consumption by 20% between 2015 and 2025—and even cut CO2 emissions 25% by changing our energy mix.

Video : Réduire l'impact environnemental de Transilien et de ses voyageurs : le face-à-face

Estimating the CO₂ footprint for your journey

The CO2 methodology used by the French government is available on the website of the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition. SNCF’s methodology complies with the guide on CO2 information for transport services published by the French State.

Visit the Ministry’s website (in French)

Download SNCF’S CO2 information guide (PDF, English, 104 KB)

Photo credits: © Alex Profit / SNCF

Smarter energy consumption

SNCF is France’s largest consumer of industrial energy, at a cost of over €1bn annually.

In 2014 we launched Traction Energy Reduction, a new programme designed to make us more energy-efficient and reduce our environmental impact through several ambitious projects.

It’s a big challenge, since 80% of the energy we consume is used to transport of passengers and freight.

Meanwhile, we’ve begun another programme that harnesses big data technologies to pool and analyse our consumption data. Using input from the IT systems for our operations, a high-performance analytical tool generates detailed information on consumption and highlights areas where we can save energy.


New stations

All new SNCF stations are certified HEQ (High Environmental Quality), with better insulation and the ability to generate their own energy.

Green driving practices

Our high-speed TGVs now have a green driving system that could reduce consumption up to 12%.

Putting recovered energy to work

By 2020, we plan to capture braking energy from our trains and use it to power stations and surrounding neighbourhoods.

Diversifying energy sources

By 2025, we will give preference to renewable energy sources—wind, hydraulic, solar and more—to power our trains.

Case study: Eurostar

Under Eurostar’s updated energy management system, its new fleet of e320 trains has already generated significant savings, with 17% more energy efficiency per seat than the previous generation of trainsets.

The new trains also have high-tech energy meters and driver assistance systems, and drivers are trained in green driving practices. Eurostar also plans to launch a comprehensive retrofit programme for all new trains now in operation.

Photo credits: © Maxime Huriez

Cutting greenhouse gases

At the COP 21 Climate Change Conference in 2015, we pledged to cut our CO2 emissions—a commitment that makes rail even more attractive as a low-carbon transport option.

Over the past 25 years, SNCF Group has become significantly more energy-efficient, cutting per-passenger CO2 emissions from 14.92 g/km in 1990 to 8.3 g/km in 2016.

We achieved this through:

  • continuous improvement of our equipment
  • higher occupancy rates
  • rising energy efficiency

Our latest commitments are very ambitious:

  • cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20% between 2014 and 2025
  • improve our CO2 performance by 25% between 2015 and 2025, per passenger-km and per tonne-km

Science-Based Targets initiative

In line with the commitments we made at COP 21, we joined the Science-Based Targets initiative in 2016.

This global programme helps member companies move their industrial strategy toward a growth model for a liveable world, using science-based methods that any company can adopt.

Learn more

Promoting renewable energies

In November 2016, we adopted a strategic climate/energy roadmap calling for large-scale deployment of renewable energy solutions.

SNCF Immobilier’s top executives are taking the lead on this initiative, and they’ll begin by making changes to the land and buildings in our real estate portfolio, giving preference to wood heating and solar, geothermal and wind energy. 

Meanwhile, solar technology is already in place on the roofs of our carparks and technicentres, and the heating and ventilation systems for the stations on the Rhine-Rhone TGV line use geothermal energy, wood heating and natural ventilation.

Recycling: A new life

Recyclable trains

Our new Régiolis and Regio 2N trains are over 90% recyclable.

Better rail waste sorting

Recyclables are sorted at green project sites by workers who need a springboard into the job market.

Recycling old workwear

We collect old work clothes from our employees and recycle them into new textiles.

Using less paper

We plan to cut paper consumption by 30% and raise use of recycled paper to 25% over the next two years.

Innovation: Investing in the future

Les objectifs ambitieux adoptés par SNCF en matière énergétique représentent un vrai défi pour l’entreprise. En particulier pour la direction Innovation & Recherche, dont la vocation est de défricher les chemins qui mènent aux solutions d’avenir.

Raison pour laquelle nous avons largement investi ces dernières années via :

  • la création de partenariats avec des industriels et des universitaires du monde entier pour discuter énergie et développement durable
  • le réseau Synapses, qui réunit 400 experts scientifiques et techniques du Groupe, afin de mutualiser leurs connaissances et compétences
  • une production scientifique accrue avec l’accompagnement de 66 thèses et le dépôt de 27 brevets en 2017


TECH4RAIL: Mobility for the future

In 2015 we launched TECH4RAIL, a technology reboot that is positioning SNCF at the forefront of longer-term ideas and innovation, ahead of the next wave of change. With this programme, we are designing the mobility of tomorrow.

TECH4RAIL is also focused on energy efficiency and energy storage. Both on-board and stationary energy storage systems should improve traction performance and keep our passengers comfortable in the event of a catenary power outage. We’re also exploring hydrogen power as an alternative to diesel fuel.

Tomorrow’s TER

Some 30% of the traction energy consumed by our TER trains is lost to heat in their braking systems, so we’ve studied hybridization solutions and strategies for recovering the wasted energy. Our goal: cut energy consumption by 20% and reduce maintenance costs.

As part of this effort, we’ve worked with Alstom to develop a hybridization system for our Régiolis trainsets and offered it to French regions that operate Régiolis trains. They will experiment with and approve the new technology: the first in-service tests are slated for 2019. In theory, the move to hybrid TERs should yield multiple benefits, reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as noise and pollution.

Hyperloop technology

Looking further into the future, we’re investigating even more innovative technologies, such as the hyperloop.

Envisioned by entrepreneur Elon Musk as the rail of the future, this technology is now under development at Hyperloop One, a California-based start-up backed by an investment from SNCF. The hyperloop system consists of capsules running through a reduced-pressure tube on air bearings, driven by solar-powered induction motors.

In addition to very low energy consumption and zero pollution, this new transport mode would run at more than 1,000 km/h.