Photo credit (banner): Alex Profit

Energy to power trains and rail facilities

From electricity to diesel fuel to gas, anticipating demand and finding innovative, sustainable energy solutions are a priority for the rail sector.

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Energy on a grand scale

Energy is important for every one of SNCF’s operations and subsidiaries. Electricity powers our trains, and we consume 165 million litres of fuel every year to fill the tanks of our diesel-powered locomotives—plus gas to heat our rolling stock workshops, fuel for our 20,000 service vehicles and more. 

Top four energy needs

We use energy in four key areas: 

  • rail traction—over half of our total consumption
  • road transport—around one quarter of our total consumption 
  • tertiary, social and industrial buildings, as well as stations and other rail facilities
  • service vehicles
  • 16.8 TWh

    SNCF Group’s total energy consumption in 2017

  • 9 TWH

    of electricity in 2017, or 3% of all electricity consumed in France

  • of traction energy is consumed as diesel fuel

Our energy sources

To meet these needs, we use a wide range of energy sources. The top four are:

  • electricity (53%)
  • off-road diesel (13%)
  • road diesel (22%)
  • natural gas (7%)

Group-wide challenge

Energy is important for every part of our business:

  • passenger transport, including Transilien, TER and Intercités
  • freight transport—Fret and Geodis
  • station operations—Gares et Connexions
  • social housing—ICF Habitat
  • infrastructure management—SNCF Réseau 

Making our operations greener and less carbon-intensive

Because SNCF consumes a lot of energy, we face significant challenges—economic, social, environmental and technological. 

To meet the twin goals of fighting climate change and improving air quality, in 2016 we adopted an ambitious energy policy that calls for us to limit the environmental impact of our operations and cut our CO2 emissions. 

25 %

carbon emissions by 2025

Our action plan

We’ve pledged to improve energy efficiency 20% and cut carbon emissions 25% by 2025. To achieve these goals, we’re working in five key areas. 

Consume less energy 

Our efforts focus largely on changing our habits and professional practices, optimizing existing equipment, and designing or purchasing more energy-efficient equipment.

Improve measuring and monitoring

Better measurement and monitoring means better controls on consumption. To achieve these goals, we’re using automated building and facilities management systems, meters aboard our trains, and other targeted IT systems as needed.

Get out of fossil fuels

To curb our emissions of CO2 and other pollutants, we need to move away from fossil fuels. That means moving into bio-energies, hybrid rolling stock and hydrogen-powered trains, replacing our heating-oil boilers, and more. 

Secure our electricity supply

To meet this challenge, we’re entering into long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable electricity.

Produce renewable energies

We’re beginning to produce photovoltaic and other renewable energies by developing solar farms and other installations on the roofs of our buildings and carparks. 


Our procurement policy is an integral part of our energy policy, which is why we helped launch Railsponsible, a sustainable procurement initiative recognized in 2017 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). As a Railsponsible member, we expect our suppliers to innovate and adopt best practices for energy efficiency.

Learn more about Railsponsible