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Driverless train technology holds enormous promise. With it, we can carry more passengers and freight, deliver better on-time performance, reduce energy consumption and increase cost-efficiency—while still meeting our high standards for passenger safety.
We’re already working with the Railenium Test and Research Centre to develop fully automated trains for SNCF Fret and TER regional rail. Testing is set to begin in 2020, and we aim to begin operating the new trains by 2023.
Hybrid and hydrogen-powered trains for TER regional rail
The first TER hybrids—built by Alstom and powered by a combination of electricity and diesel fuel—will arrive in stations in 2021, thanks to financial support from four French regions. These modified Régiolis trainsets are set to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, advancing our broader effort to make French rail more eco-friendly.
Over the next few years, we’ll roll the hybrids out in tandem with zero-emission hydrogen TERs, powered by fuel cells that combine hydrogen and oxygen to create electricity. Also manufactured by Alstom, these will replace diesel trainsets on the non-electrified portions of our network. The first hydrogen-powered models could begin operating as early as 2022.
Tomorrow’s TGV will be connected, 97% recyclable and packed with innovative, high-performance features, including a more aerodynamic profile and a brake energy recovery system. Result: next-generation TGVs will consume 20% less energy than existing trainsets, and their carbon footprint will be 37% smaller.
In July 2018, SNCF placed a firm order with Alstom for 100 TGV trainsets worth nearly €3 billion. We expect the first of these to arrive in stations by 2023, with the rest rolled out gradually over the following decade.