Within SNCF Voyageurs, each division designs and deploys its own environmental initiative. In 2020, our TER regional rail business launched its PlaneTER campaign, and now our long-distance train unit has created Planète Voyages.
Leader of the pack
Of all the options for long-distance travel, trains are the most eco-friendly by far. Though they carry 10% of the sector’s passengers, they account for only 0.6% of its carbon emissions. When you take one of our high-speed TGVs, you emit 98% less CO2 than the same journey by car, and nearly 99% less than if you took a plane.
For example, if you make a 600-km return journey with TGV INOUI, you’ll emit 2 kg of CO2. Travel the same distance by car, and that rises to 100 kg of CO2.
And every kilo of CO2 matters in the fight against climate disruption.
Want to save the planet? Take a train
The graphic compares transport modes using a thermometer ranging from green (lowest emissions) to red (highest emissions).
CO2e emissions per passenger for 1 km of travel:
- 1.7g: INTERCITÉS, TGV INOUI or OUIGO train (green)
- 35g: long-distance coach (green)
- 88g: car with 2.2 passengers1 (yellow)
- 141g: plane (orange)
- 193g: car with 1 person (red)
NOTE: CO2e emissions per passenger for 1 km of travel aboard international trains2:
- 2.05 g: Lyria (Switzerland)
- 4.5 g: DB-SNCF partnership (Germany)
- 5.4 g: Renfe-SNCF partnership (Spain)
- 8.5 g: TGV INOUI (Italy)
- 6.68 g: Thalys (Belgium and the Netherlands)
- 8.64 g: Eurostar (United Kingdom)
A strategy for France—and Europe
The French State’s roadmap is clear: with its National Low-Carbon Strategy (SNBC), France is committed to fighting climate disruption. A new law will soon ban domestic flights wherever a rail alternative of less than 2.5 hours is available.
As a transport provider offering 100% electric long-distance service, we play a key role in the European Union’s strategy to reduce CO2 emissions by boosting rail traffic in all member countries.
But we won’t succeed unless we persuade people to change their habits and travel by train. In an IFOP poll conducted in June 2020, 66% of French respondents still said that they don’t consider environmental impact when selecting transport options. Yet 53% say that they’re willing to switch from cars to rail, and within that group, 21% say they already do.
What you can do
Sustainable mobility is a matter for corporate business models and society at large—but it’s also a question of individual commitment. In France, per capita carbon footprint comes to 9.8 metric tons of CO2 annually. We need to cut that by 2 tonnes to get global warming under control.
Because transport accounts for 30% of CO2 emissions in France, travelling by train is a powerful way to reduce your carbon footprint and fight climate disruption. Our aim is to help you choose rail instead of a plane or car.
By 2032, we plan to attract 41 million domestic and 37 million international travellers who currently fly or drive. That’s 78 million new rail passengers a year—a shift that would eliminate 288 kilo tonnes of CO2 annually.
new passengers a year by 2032
less energy consumed by our high-speed trains by 2025
Shrinking our carbon footprint
We’re working to reduce our own carbon footprint by cutting traction energy consumption 20% by 2025—even as we grow our offer in France and other European countries. Our efforts to reach that goal include two key areas:
green driving practices: these can save up to 10% of the energy used for a journey, and 100% of our high-speed drivers have been trained
green parking: this trims 7% off the overall energy consumed by a trainset’s heating and cooling system.
Ecodesign and the circular economy
Our offer is designed to be eco-responsible. That means shrinking our footprint, minimizing resource consumption, and avoiding waste. We’re committed to the 4 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle.
Sustainable high-speed trains
Our TGV trains are designed in France. They’re optimized for maximum sustainability, and when we retire them, they’re 92% recyclable.
The 2024 Olympic Games will mark the debut of our new TGV M train—lighter, more aerodynamic, modular, and made from more eco-friendly materials. Its cooling system will be completely redesigned, and it will carry more passengers. And thanks to its ecodesign, the TGV M will be fully 97% recyclable. Overall, we aim to cut energy consumption by 20% and per-passenger CO2 emissions by 32%.
In addition to designing new rolling stock, we’re working to shrink our environmental footprint by optimizing maintenance. In particular, we want to identify all parts that are subject to wear—engines, wheelsets, transformers and more—so we can service them and put them back to work.
Eco-friendly offers in our TGV INOUI café-bars and Grand Voyageur lounges
Aboard your TGV INOUI, you can count on Le Bar to help you reduce your environmental footprint:
- 94% of our products are made in France, and many are locally sourced.
- 44% of our products are sustainably farmed or certified organic.
And many of our menu items are vegetarian.
The selection in Le Bar also generates less rubbish and fights food waste. In 2021 we replaced PET plastic bottles with Tetra Top®, an eco-friendly Tetrapack bottle that cuts plastic consumption by 16 tonnes a year.
You’ll also find 100% eco-responsible products in our TGV INOUI Grand Voyageur lounges, including organic coffee, zero plastic, and digital newspapers and magazines.
Did you know? We recycle 55,000 metric tonnes of materials per year.
Zero waste by 2030
We plan to reach zero unreclaimed waste by 2030, and we began working towards this goal in 2021.
- We’re reducing waste at the source, starting with the plastic in our food and beverage offer. In Le Bar, our baristas will begin collecting glass in 2022 and biodegradable waste in 2023. This applies to all trains with on-board dining.
- Starting in 2022, we’ll offer recycling aboard 80% of our trains.
- We’re also offering containers that are easier to recycle.
- Attendants will collect rubbish more frequently.
- We’re working to keep recyclables sorted into separate streams all the way to the recycling centre.
1 Average number of passengers on a long-distance journey in France.
Source: Ademe (French Environment and Energy Management Agency), May 2020. Comparison of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) expressed as CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per passenger-kilometre for a high-speed TGV (traction energy consumed), a short-haul flight, and the average long-distance value for a car. Values taken from Ademe’s Base Carbone database, in the Data section of Article L1431.3 of the French Transport Code – GHG Information for Transport Services.