Photo credit (banner): Alstom_Coradia Polyvalent pour Regiolis

Our commitment to hydrogen trains

Hydrogen-powered TER regional trains are coming soon. And they’re just one part of our effort to advance the energy transition, make the rail system greener and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

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Eco-friendly alternative to diesel

Our corporate purpose is to bring the freedom of effortless mobility and a greener planet to all, and we’ve spent years working with manufacturers to develop ever-greener TER regional trains. Central to this effort is our plan to launch commercial operation of hydrogen trains in 2025, starting with an order for 14 Régiolis H2 trainsets.

In our current TER fleet, diesel still accounts for 25% of energy consumption and 75% of CO2 emissions—which is why we’re investing in zero-carbon technologies. Our new hydrogen trains will put these investments to work, replacing diesel-powered locomotives and self-propelled units on lines with no electricity.

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Régiolis H2 trainsets ordered

French regions make the leap to hydrogen

Since 2018, we’ve been working with France’s regional authorities to shape new hydrogen-powered rail ecosystems for the future. Now three regions—Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Grand Est and Occitanie—have agreed to order 14 hydrogen trainsets manufactured by Alstom.

Moreover, in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, plans have already been made to purchase three trainsets that will run around the Morvan. The hydrogen needed will be produced on a brand new site in the city of Auxerre.

Testing of hydrogen-powered TERs—developed in tandem with hybrid and battery-powered TERs and biofuel research—should begin in 2023.

Learn more about our hybrid Régiolis train

How it works

In hydrogen trains, diesel engines are replaced with fuel cells, batteries and hydrogen, creating a traction system that emits zero greenhouse gases.

In the fuel cell, hydrogen (from tanks on the train’s roof) mixes with oxygen (from the surrounding air) to produce electricity, which is stored in the batteries and powers the train. And there’s only one waste product:  water. 

Manufactured by Alstom, this dual-mode train can run on both electricity and hydrogen, reaching top speeds of 160 km/h and carrying up to 220 passengers. On hydrogen alone, its range is 400-600 km.

Playing an active role in the energy transition

As we make the transition to responsible energies, we’re targeting a 20% improvement in energy efficiency and a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

To reach these goals, we’ll take action in three key areas:

  • use less energy—install energy meters on locomotives, help train drivers optimize their driving technique, and motivate employees to save energy through a dedicated platform
  • make operations greener and less carbon-intensive—install solar panels on SNCF sites, operate hybrid TERs, use biofuels and roll out hydrogen-powered trains
  • advocate for clean mobility—promote rail travel by reminding everyone that trains are France’s greenest transport option, accounting for only 0.4% of the industry’s greenhouse gas emissions