Photo credit (banner): EIV de Bourgogne

Coming soon: Green track

SNCF Réseau will begin installing its first green track—low-carbon rail developed in partnership with LIBERTY Steel—in 2021. It’s a concrete step toward shrinking our CO2 footprint and reaching our goal of carbon-neutral track by 2030.

Published on | Updated on

At SNCF, we’re committed to advancing the circular economy by reclaiming end-of-life products and conserving resources. Most recently, we approved the use of eco-friendly GREENSTEEL rail on our network. The manufacturing process for this new track—created by UK-based LIBERTY Steel in partnership with SNCF Réseau—emits 60%-90% less CO2 than traditional manufacturing.

  • Green rail production emits 60%-90% less CO₂ than the traditional process

  • We aim to reach carbon-neutral track production by 2030

How it works

The first step is to melt scrap metal—including recovered rail—in the electric arc furnace at LIBERTY’s Ascoval steelworks in Northern France. Then the molten metal is cast into large, rectangular steel bars called “blooms”, which are rolled into GREENSTEEL rails at LIBERTY’S Hayange plant in Eastern France.

It’s not just that some of our rails will be made with an electric furnace. We’ll close the circle by offering scrap rail as a raw material—all as part of an optimized logistics cycle.

Olivier Bancel, Chief Operations Officer, SNCF Réseau

Working towards carbon neutrality

LIBERTY’s steelmaking process reduces CO2 emissions significantly by using an electric arc furnace instead of a traditional blast furnace, and by recycling used metal rather than importing steel from other countries—even other continents. But at SNCF we want to go even further and make our rail production process entirely carbon neutral by 2030.

Safety as a priority

The steelmakers at the Hayange plant worked closely with our teams to produce a range of rail products that meet the French network’s demanding standards. As project manager, SNCF Réseau audited the Ascoval steelworks and tested the rails extensively to ensure that it would be safe to use them.

The first green tracks will be delivered in 2021 for installation at two project sites: Retiers-Châteaubriant in Brittany and Saintes-Saint Mariens near Bordeaux.