Photo credit (banner): Christophe Recoura / SNCF

As our climate changes, people are making different choices—about what products and services they buy, and about how they travel. That’s why we’re pioneering low-carbon mobility and delivering sustainable solutions to the challenges of moving passengers and freight. 

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95% less greenhouse gas

Did you know? On average, you generate about 95% less greenhouse gas when you take a train instead of driving alone. And freight emits about 90% less pollution when rail replaces road.

For further information, we invite you to consult SNCF general methodology on greenhouse gases information for transport services.

Download methodology

New ways to power our trains

In our continuing quest to boost energy-efficiency, we’ve focused primarily on our rolling stock, developing hybrid TER regional trains, installing energy meters, and deploying Opti-Conduite, an eco-friendly driving interface.

 We’re also working to improve our carbon performance by: 

  • running our mobility solutions on electricity and biofuels
  • operating hybrid trains starting in 2020
  • deploying hydrogen-powered trains starting in 2022
  • eliminating diesel power in 2035 

And we’ve signed electricity purchase agreements with renewable energy suppliers and developed solar energy programmes.

Learn more

25 %

improvement in carbon performance between 2015 and 2025

Innovation and sustainability

New stations

New SNCF stations are certified High Environmental Quality (HEQ): they’re better insulated and can generate their own energy.

Green driving practices

Aboard our TGV INOUIs, the driver support system reduces consumption by up to 12% by optimizing braking and the engine’s automatic stop/start system.

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 our energy sources

By 2025, renewable energy sources—wind, hydraulic, solar and more—will be our first choice for powering trains.

Embracing the energy transition to fight climate change

The transport industry is responsible for 30% of energy consumption in France—but trains account for only 0.6%, even though they carry 10% of all passengers and freight. That makes rail an energy-efficient solution for moving people and goods. Yet there’s still room for progress in scaling up rail transport, choosing how we power our rolling stock and more.

Estimating the CO₂ footprint for your journey¹

Estimating the CO₂ footprint for your journey¹

In France

A journey from Nantes to Lyon generates:

  • 78.7 kg of CO2e per passenger by plane
  • 51.9 kg of CO2e per passenger by car
  • 2.4 kg of CO2e per passenger by high-speed train 

Other regions

A journey from Marseille to Toulon generates:

  • 22.8 kg of CO2e per passenger in a car
  • 5.9 kg of CO2e per passenger in a train

In and around Paris

A journey from Paris Lyon station to nearby Juvisy generates:

  • 2.8 kg of CO2e per passenger by car
  • 0.1 kg of CO2e per passenger by train

How we’re cutting our CO₂ emissions

Rail is a low-carbon transport option, but we’re making it even better by: 

  • continuing to improve our rolling stock 
  • boosting occupancy rates 
  • becoming more energy-efficient 

For further information, we invite you to consult SNCF general methodology on greenhouse gases information for transport services (article L1431.3 of the french Transport Code). In this document, you will find the carbon intensity values in force for our passenger rail activities in France (TGV, Transilien, Intercités, TER) and the values for other modes of transport for journey comparison.

Current version published in 10 August 2022

Download methodology

Keolis : climate innovation

Developing a sustainable public transport network is a challenge: to succeed, a system must strike a balance between profitability, affordable fares, environmental protection and long-term infrastructure needs.

Our Keolis subsidiary is working hard to raise air quality and reduce noise pollution through a range of green transport solutions. These include natural gas-powered buses in Tours (France), electric vehicles in Orléans (also in France) and 100% electric school buses in Canada

Learn more

Thalys : slashing our CO2 emissions

Our Thalys subsidiary took action long before the climate emergency was declared. Over a period of 10 years, it cut CO2 emissions by 50%. That’s 25,000 tonnes, or 56% less CO2 emitted per passenger.

Thalys met this challenge by implementing a comprehensive plan of action spanning every aspect of its operations—from powering trains more sustainably to adopting green driving practices to serving organic, locally sourced food on board.

Other keys to its success include:

  • using 100% wind-generated energy in the Netherlands since 2017. Thalys achieved this goal by purchasing Guarantees of Origin—documents ensuring that all energy consumed is matched and supplied to the electrical grid by renewable energy producers.
  • using 100% locally produced green energy for all Thalys trains running in France, Belgium and Germany since 1 January 2020, through Guarantees of Origin from solar and wind producers in these 3 core Thalys markets.
  • replacing single-use plastic with sustainable alternatives, resulting in 2700 kg less plastic each year
  • reducing consumption of lighting, heating and air conditioning
  • moving to digital ticketing
  • optimizing its offer to maximize train occupancy

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

This global partnership provides scientific support to member companies, helping them steer their industrial strategy toward a growth model that is compatible with a liveable world.

Learn more about the Science-Based Targets initiative

Where profitability meets sustainability

Photovoltaic solar and other renewable energies offer a real opportunity to make profitability go hand in hand with sustainability.

Stepping up the shift to renewables

Over the next few years, we plan to rely increasingly on renewable energies, with a particular focus on generating our own power—a strategy that could reduce purchasing costs and safeguard our energy supply over the long term. 

And as France’s second-largest property owner, we’re in a strong position to work with industry and local government to put our considerable ground and rooftop real estate to good use.

Our solar energy plan

Working through SNCF Immobilier, our real estate arm, we’re supporting France’s nationwide environmental campaign, and we’ve made three commitments in support of solar energy: 

  • make a detailed inventory of all spaces of 2 hectares or more where solar panels could be installed 
  • promote solar power projects on suitable plots of land
  • develop self-consumption projects for SNCF buildings, and roll out rooftop solar installations progressively at all major facilities, spanning as much as 16 ha

100 ha made available for solar within 5 years

SNCF parie sur les panneaux solaires

New energies from old sites

In line with our ambitious sustainability policy, we’re actively searching for ways to repurpose disused SNCF facilities, working with local partners to launch projects that serve the public interest. In just one example, we’ve transformed our 25-ha property at Surdon, in North-western France, into a ground-mounted solar power plant.

With support from many local stakeholders, this idled industrial site came back to life in the Spring of 2018 and now generates nearly 7,500 MWh of power a year—enough to meet the non-heating energy needs of around 3,000 households.

Controlling pollution

We’re investing heavily in R&D aimed at improving air quality and limiting the impact of noise pollution from infrastructure, rolling stock, stations, fixed installations, industrial processes such as track works, and more. We’re also working to improve passenger perception and make our trains more comfortable inside. And we’re reducing noise in every area of our operations, to make life more comfortable not only for our customers and employees, but for our neighbours as well.

Limiting noise

To make life better for our customers, our employees and our neighbours, we’re limiting and reducing noise from infrastructure, rolling stock, stations, fixed installations, industrial processes such as track works and more. We’re also working to boost comfort levels inside our trains.

Greener rolling stock

As passenger and freight traffic continues to grow, we’re keenly aware of the climate- and public health-related issues facing the transport industry. Over the past several years, we’ve worked to make our rolling stock more eco-friendly, focusing especially on our fleet of TER regional trains, which is still 50% diesel-powered. Working with partners in industry, we’re developing more sustainable alternatives to conventional traction, designing next-generation trains that can run on new energies—and even combine them.

Learn more about hydrogen-powered trains

Learn more about hybrid trains

Improving air quality

Rail operations can create high concentrations of fine particulates in underground spaces. This form of pollution—largely caused by train braking systems—is a public health concern and should be reduced.

To meet this goal, we’ve launched several experiments aimed at cleaning up air quality in stations in and around Paris. 

Learn more

Sustainable alternatives to road transport

By 2030, Europe’s roads could carry a million more trucks, generating an additional 80 million tonnes of CO2e—a scenario that runs counter to the Paris Agreement climate targets set in 2015. 

Which is why we joined some 15 other freight companies to form Rail Freight Forward. As a member of this visionary coalition, we’re helping to develop a high-quality rail freight offer that will give Europe a sustainable alternative to road transport. And we’ve set an ambitious goal: offset the environmental impact of freight transport growth by increasing the modal share of rail freight to 30% by 2030.

Promoting eco-friendly transport and logistics solutions

In addition to emitting CO2e and other greenhouse gases, road transport also generates pollutants such as fine particulates, sulphur oxides and nitrogen oxides, which pose a major health concern in towns and cities.

Over the past ten years, our Geodis subsidiary has been working to reduce these emissions by replacing diesel with natural gas, electric power and biomethane, which are safer for the environment.

Learn more

Rail motorways for a healthier planet

Booming e-commerce has triggered unprecedented change in the logistics industry. Transport and logistics operators now demand a win-win offer that combines operational excellence with environmental responsibility—and that’s exactly what our rail motorways are designed to deliver.

Learn more about the Calais-Turin rail motorway

Nothing is lost. Everything is transformed.

Since the end of 2013, we’ve made the circular economy a priority at SNCF. In practice, that means reducing resource consumption, cutting waste and reclaiming end-of-life products. 

A circular economy works like a natural ecosystem: nothing is lost and everything is transformed. Its primary aim is to conserve resources—from ecodesigned goods and services to recycled materials—and limit waste, especially in industry.

Four goals

Our strategy for creating the circular economy now covers our front-line operations, our real-estate business, and Group-wide services, such as workwear and electronic and electrical equipment.

We aim to reach four goals by 2020: 

  • promote ecodesign and incorporate whole-life cost principles 
  • adapt our front-line processes to optimize component lifespan and use materials more sustainably 
  • expand our partnerships with environmental organizations and with existing and emerging reclamation industries
  • create value for our business by selling waste, and for the regions and communities we serve by creating jobs and boosting local economies.

New life for rolling stock

Every year we retire end-of-life rolling stock—Corail coaches, service trains, locomotives, TGVs and more—from our fleet, working with qualified suppliers to disassemble them, dispose of pollutants responsibly and remove asbestos as needed. By cultivating a network of end-of-life specialists, we’re helping to create a thriving circular economy for the rail industry.

Reclaiming track components

Question: how can we re-use and reclaim the old steel rails, ballast, sleepers, and other waste we generate when we re-lay or maintain our tracks? For SNCF Réseau, the answer is to be fully engaged in the circular economy, and that’s a win-win solution: between 2017 and 2018, revenue from reclaiming discarded materials rose 20%.

Learn how SNCF Réseau reclaims waste products

Finding new ways to recycle workwear

End-of-life workwear presents a real challenge. Every year SNCF retires garments in the thousands of tonnes, and until now there have been only two disposal options: the incinerator and the landfill. To solve this problem, we joined forces with Orée, an environmental non-profit, to launch a ground-breaking recycling initiative called FRIVEP.

In January 2019 FRIVEP inaugurated the first sorting and recycling centre for workwear—an essential step towards creating an innovative recycling industry for these specialized textiles.

Learn more (in French)

  • 97.3 %

    of rails were recycled in 2019

  • 45 M

    of SNCF Réseau’s 2018 revenue came from sales of end-of-life materials

  • 250 km

    of wagons laid end to end are set to be dismantled by 2028

  • 90 %

    of each TGV train is recycled

Making ecodesign a priority

SNCF Réseau has made sustainable design a priority, and we’re applying it to the full range of Group operations, from products and services to infrastructure projects.

With ecodesign, we can: 

  • conserve resources and consume fewer non-renewable materials 
  • boost energy efficiency 
  • limit environmental impacts 
  • make our network more resilient 
  • shrink our physical footprint

We’re also using ecodesign to address climate change risk and adapt our infrastructure and rolling stock to mitigate its impacts.

Learn more

Romilly-sur-Seine: maintenance facility of the future

The benefits of ecodesign aren’t limited to our rail network: we’re applying them to every area of our business. That includes transforming our operational assets as we work to become more productive, embrace innovation, spur economic growth, reshape the towns and cities we serve—and make SNCF a better place to work. 

In Romilly-sur-Seine, for example, we’re replacing our old maintenance depot with a brand-new centre of excellence that will deliver better performance, provide a more ergonomic workplace and reduce our impact on the environment. The new facility is set for completion by the end of 2019.

Ecodesigning carparks for our stations

In the Paris region, authorities have pledged to encourage people to use public transport by adding more parking around stations. The task of carrying out studies and building a dozen new carparks was assigned to our AREP subsidiary, which made eco-friendliness a core consideration. Key elements of the project include managing water resources, remediating soil and keeping it permeable by choosing the right materials for each site. 

Learn more

Protecting natural resources and biodiversity

With 30,000 km of track, over 3,000 stations and some 50 industrial facilities, we interact directly with a wide range of ecosystems. As a result, our rail facilities play a major role in preserving natural resources and biodiversity.

Learn more

Understanding and containing our impact

We conduct a wide range of “avoid, reduce, offset” (ARO) studies to understand how our facilities affect neighbouring plants and animals, and to ensure that our operations are well integrated into their surroundings. 

We’re also a member of Act4Nature, a biodiversity initiative launched in 2018 by Entreprises pour l’Environnement—a group of environmentally conscious businesses—alongside scientific partners and NGOs. We apply its principles to our existing properties, our plans for new developments, and our partnerships with biodiversity advocates, research programmes and other stakeholders. 

Learn more

Controlling vegetation around our tracks

Keeping our tracks clear of plant growth is essential to delivering safe, on-time rail service, and we’re working to find new, more sustainable methods to meet this goal. Achievements include reducing pesticide use by 75% over the past 20 years, modernizing our weed-killer trains, searching for glyphosate alternatives and expanding our use of eco-grazing.

And since 2005, we’ve modified our trackside vegetation control practices to conserve water.

Download our CO2 information guide

1 per passenger-km and per tonne-km

2 from 2008 levels