Photo credit (banner): Alstom_Coradia Polyvalent pour Regiolis

Accelerating roll-out of hydrogen-powered trains

Zero-emission TER trains are coming soon. And they’re just one part of our effort to advance the energy transition, make the rail system greener and eliminate diesel by 2035.

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Eco-friendly alternative

Our purpose is to “bring freedom for everyone to move about with ease while preserving the planet”. We’ve spent years working with manufacturers to reduce pollution from our TER rolling stock, and the hydrogen-powered trains we’ll roll out in 2022 will move us toward that goal. 

Within the TER fleet, diesel still accounts for 25% of energy consumption and 75% of CO2 emissions, so we’ve invested in zero-carbon technologies to improve their performance. Our new hydrogen trains will put these investments to work, replacing diesel-powered locomotives on lines with no electricity.

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Mobility for everyone, everywhere

In December 2018, we created a steering committee, with members from SNCF, regional authorities and Alstom, a rolling stock manufacturer, to help meet our goal. Their task: track our early progress towards deploying a hydrogen train and adapting our network and infrastructure to the new technology.

Testing of hydrogen-powered TERs, developed in tandem with hybrid TERs and research into biofuels, should begin in 2021.

A number of French regions are already interested in operating the new hydrogen TERs, including Burgundy-Franche-Comté, Occitanie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and Grand Est. 

Learn more about our hybrid Régiolis train


We need to work with our regional partners to ensure that this new rolling stock not only advances the energy transition, but makes our TER service more reliable, more competitive and more attractive—and that it continues to deliver the highest level of safety for our passengers.

Frank Lacroix, CEO TER
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How it works

Hydrogen trains store their fuel in a tank on the roof. As the hydrogen in the tank mixes with oxygen in the surrounding air, it generates the electricity needed to power the train. 

Manufactured by Alstom, the train can run on both electricity and hydrogen, reaching top speeds of 160 km/h with up to 220 passengers on board. Its hydrogen range is around 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