Photo credit (banner): sNCF

Hybrid TER: Field testing to begin this year

SNCF will begin field-testing its first hybrid Régiolis in 2021. This innovative train, designed to run on non-electrified regional lines, has high-capacity batteries that will save energy and reduce noise.

Hybrid trains—greener, quieter and cheaper—are on the way, as SNCF and Alstom continue to develop these innovative vehicles and test their safety performance. In the next step, a Régiolis Occitanie trainset that is already in service will be the first to be hybridized at Alstom’s Reichshoffen plant near Strasbourg. It will be trialled in 2021.

In September 2020 we completed testing of the prototype for the energy storage system. In that phase, we simulated operation on electric batteries alone and in hybrid mode, using both diesel engines and batteries.

20 %

less energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

Adapting the Régiolis trainset

Commercial operation will follow, with new TERs—powered by a combination of electricity, diesel fuel and batteries—to be launched in 2022.

Developed in partnership with Alstom and three French regions—Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie—these next-generation trains are based on a modified TER Régiolis design. This is France’s first hybrid self-propelled trainset, with rollout set for 2023.

How hybrid trains work

Hybrid trains draw on three different energy sources as needed:

  • electricity from catenaries
  • thermal power from engines
  • energy stored in batteries

The original Régiolis trains ran on electricity and diesel, but in our new hybrid, half of the diesel engines will be replaced with high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. These will be charged by catenaries in stations and by braking energy, which will be recovered and used to power the trains. That’s a significant gain, because braking energy is equivalent to 30% of traction power on Régiolis routes.

Thanks to this new energy storage system, the hybrids won’t need to use diesel traction near stations, reducing both pollution and noise. And the batteries can boost traction power when catenary tension drops below 1.5 kV.

€16.6 million invested in this experiment

Cleaner than cars

Did you know that cars generate five times more pollution than trains? On average, a TER train emits 30.7 g of CO₂/km. When you choose rail, you’re helping to cut annual carbon emissions by 10 million metric tons. And we’re working hard to make SNCF trains even more eco-friendly: current targets call for improving energy efficiency by 20% and CO2e performance by 25%.