Photo credit (banner): Letizia Le Fur

Innovation & research

At SNCF, we’re inventing the future of rail today. With more reliability and even less carbon, tomorrow’s rail system will make life easier for passengers and shippers in every part of France. Find out how.

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The cutting edge of sustainable mobility

Sweeping technological change and the climate imperative are disrupting society and transforming the way we get around. And we’re at the heart of this trend. Rail is space- and energy-efficient, and it’s already eco-friendly.

At SNCF, we’re developing new solutions to make our Group carbon neutral by 2050, while delivering reliable passenger and freight service that meets the needs of everyone, everywhere—and costs less. Areas we’re exploring include hydrogen power, biofuels, batteries, frugal electrification, and innovative, bio-based materials.

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50 %

reduction in CO₂ emissions per passenger carried since 1990

Local mobility for all

Inspired by the vision of local mobility for all, our employees work hard every day to give you more transport options, more safety and more competitiveness. These new developments include the trains of tomorrow—connected, driverless and decarbonized.

But innovation is more than transforming the rail system for the long term. It also means meeting the short-term challenges of serving low-density communities. That’s why we’re pioneering light trains, very light trains and new forms of shared transport that will repurpose small lines and expand the reach of classic rail.

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The trains of the future will be eco-friendly, driverless and connected. To invent them, we’ve built teams that include cognitive science experts, physicists and energy engineers, as well as specialists in localization and artificial intelligence.

Carole Desnost, SNCF’s Director of Technology, Innovation and Group Projects
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From start-ups to giant industrials

Our innovation teams are always keen to identify emerging technologies that will boost our rail network’s performance.

We develop their discoveries over a variety of time horizons, working with a wide range of French and international partners, from start-ups to giant industrials.

  • 60 M

    euros dedicated to innovation and scientific research¹

  • 765

    patents filed¹

Joining forces with Europe's Rail

Europe’s Rail is a groundbreaking collaborative research programme backed by all of the major rail players in the EU. It represents an investment of €1.2 billion, with the European Commission contributing half of that total under Horizon Europe, a mechanism for funding research and innovation. Its mission: step up the pace of rail innovations and roll them out quickly, working around shared goals to deliver greener, more digitalized mobility in every part of Europe.

As the successor to Shift2Rail, Europe’s Rail aims to offer every EU citizen a rail system that is modern, digital, decarbonized, reliable, flexible and affordable. It opens the door to large-scale introduction of new digital and other technologies that will reshape traffic management, command and control, signalling, infrastructure and rolling stock, energy management, rail freight and related services.

Europe’s Rail also aims to develop a world-class European rail industry by advocating for operators’ shared positions and defending their common interests. As a participant, SNCF Group is helping transform the European rail system. Thanks to our hardworking innovation and research teams and our engineering expertise in rolling stock, freight and infrastructure, we’re contributing to pioneering solutions for all.

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1 Source: 2022 budget for SNCF’s Technology, Innovation and Group Projects Division