Photo credit (banner): SNCF

Rapeseed-powered TERs could leave diesel behind

In a first for France, we’re testing B100 biofuel to replace diesel in TER regional trains running in Normandy. If the trials are successful, this new solution could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60%.

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Problem: Diesel fuel still accounts for 61% of CO2 emissions from regional trains on non-electrified sections of our network. How to eliminate it?

Solution: In addition to developing hybrid and battery-powered TERs and soon-to-be-launched hydrogen trains, we’re now trialling yet another innovation.

Through June 2021, B100 biofuel made from 100% French rapeseed1 will power 15 Régiolis trainsets in commercial operation on the Paris-Granville line. With 80% of this regional service still running on diesel, the trial—carried out in partnership with the Normandy Region—could have significant results.

Première en France : un TER roule au colza

15

Régiolis trains on the Paris-Granville line powered by rapeseed from April to June

No engine modifications

Transitioning to biodiesel would allow us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by around 60%, without changing the power system in our existing fleet—a major advantage.

In this experimental phase, we’re focused on two key questions: 

  • How far can trains run on B100 biofuel alone?
  • How well does our rolling stock perform in this mode?

During the trial, we’ll observe engine behaviour closely and study the traceability of both corrective and preventive maintenance work.

Learn more about preventive maintenance

60 %

less greenhouse gas emissions than diesel

How it works

Another advantage: the refuelling process is identical with B100. The only difference is that tanks are filled with biofuel instead of diesel, which means that the depot technicians who work on our Régiolis fleet don’t need to retrain.

PlaneTER: More trains, less CO₂

The Régiolis B100 biofuel experiment is just one part of PlaneTER, a wider campaign to slash CO2 emissions from our regional trains. Diesel still accounts for 26% of TER energy consumption, and PlaneTER aims to eliminate it from the mix by developing innovative new trainsets that run on hybrid technology, hydrogen, batteries and biofuel.

Learn more about PlaneTER

1000 litres of biofuel eliminates 900 litres of diesel

Milestones

  1. 2018

    2018

    French law authorizes use of B100 in trains.

  2. 2019

    2019

    Preliminary trials on engine test benches yield promising results, attracting support from SNCF and the Normandy Region.

  3. 2021

    2021

    B100 is tested in commercial operation on the Paris-Granville line from April to June.

  4. Next steps

    Next steps

    Results from the experiment in Normandy will help us decide whether to expand use of B100 to other trains in our fleet.

1 Bolloré Energy (the distributor) and Valtris Champlor (the supplier) guarantee the quality, sustainability and traceability of B100, made from rapeseed grown and processed in France.