Photo credit (banner): Patrick Messina

Improving air quality in stations

We’re running a series of experiments to improve air quality in stations serving the Paris Region. Take a tour of our innovations.

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Testing, testing

Because clean air is critical to public health, we’ve rolled out a stream of initiatives to improve air quality in the 380 railway stations serving the Paris Region—particularly the 25 that are wholly or partially below ground.  

Launched in 2017, the project is a partnership with Airparif, which monitors air quality in the region. We’ve now collected data from nearly all of the below-ground stations in and around Paris, and experts at SNCF and Airparif have analysed it to identify the factors that influence air quality, positioning us to roll out targeted solutions and achieve tangible results.

Since May 2019, we’ve been testing a variety of innovative air-processing systems in one of our stations, and we’re also experimenting with a suction device that traps particulates at the source. Aim: assess the effectiveness of these new technologies and choose the most effective ones.

How we measure air quality

Our test results are published on line at regular intervals, making them available to the public. Working with Airparif and the French Railway Testing Agency (AEF), we’ve carried out targeted testing for two to three weeks in every below-ground station in the Paris Region. And we measure air quality year-round in three of the region’s commuter stations:

  • Magenta (RER line E)
  • Avenue Foch (RER line C)
  • Sevran-Beaudottes (RER line B)

View the results of our testing campaign on the Airparif site (in French)

View the results of our testing campaign on the Railway Testing Agency site (in French)

Three lines of attack

In our drive to improve air quality, we’re working toward three major goals:

  • reduce fine-particulate emissions at the source
  • treat air on the platform
  • improve station ventilation

A “vacuum cleaner” for fine particulates

With support from the Paris Region and expertise from our partner, Tallano Technologie, we’re developing tamic®, a device that captures the particulates emitted by braking trains. Laboratory tests confirm that the system works and have quantified the reduction in emissions, expected to be 70%. In September 2020, we’ll mount this “fine-particulate vacuum cleaner” on a train for an initial test run without passengers, and in November we’ll test it in commercial operation. Then we’ll assess its performance, reliability and maintainability over a two-year period.

L'aspirateur à particules, technologie Tallano testée par SNCF

Two air-processing innovations

In 2018 the Paris Region issued a call for innovative solutions to the challenge of in-station air quality, and the Avenue Foch station (on the RER C commuter line) was chosen to test two winning proposals:

  • In 2019, Air Liquide experimented with a positive ionization technology that charges particles with electricity, forming them into clusters that are easier to capture.
  • In 2020, we’re testing a liquid filtration system from Terrao. Designed by the start-up Starklab, this captures particles by sucking in air and injecting it into water.

Meanwhile, we’re planning another experiment at the Sevran-Beaudottes station (on the RER B line), where we’ll test an air filtration solution by our partner Mann+Hummel in the second half of 2020.

And we’re in contact with public transport operators that are working to improve air quality in below-ground stations in the UK, Sweden, Korea, Japan and Spain. Sharing ideas has helped us identify different air-processing technologies and explore new approaches to reducing particulate emissions.

Improving ventilation

Better ventilation means better air quality in stations. We’re studying long-term solutions to replace existing smoke-removal devices in stations with dual-purpose systems that perform equally well during a fire and in routine operations. The new stations on the Éole line (RER E) will be fitted with this combination smoke-removal/ventilation equipment.

TGVs too

And our fight against pollution doesn’t stop at the station door. Tomorrow’s high-speed TGVs, now being designed by Alstom, will have a new interior air purification system that can filter three to four times more fine particulates.