In a recent announcement SNCF committed to bringing the regions in France together to prepare for the putting into circulation of the first TER hydrogen train by 2022. Frank LACROIX, General Manager TER and Pierre Izard, Deputy Chief Executive Officer Rail Systems and Technologies, reaffirmed SNCF’s commitment to a rapid deployment of the use of hydrogen.
An Ambitious Project in the Heart of the Territories
The challenge of greening the railways is great for SNCF, particularly for its TER activity, which is the most exposed to diesel. As recently announced by the President of the Board, Guillaume Pepy, SNCF wants to get out of diesel by 2035.
Currently, 50% of the TER fleet is equipped with thermal traction and 20% is bi-mode (electric and thermal). Nearly half of the energy costs consumed by TER are of thermal origin.
Replacing diesel with hydrogen technology, reduces CO2 emissions and other polluting emissions. In France, less than 1% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions come from rail. For TER however, diesel represents 25% of the energy consumed. The regional train, already 5 times less emitting than the private car, but can still make furhter progress. The choice of lines on which future hydrogen trains could circulate is a key element, some of which have already been identified by the Regions. The first tests are envisaged from the end of 2021.
Launching Feasibility Study
SNCF will provide its scientific and technical expertise as a railway operator and maintenance of rolling stock. The Public Rail Group will thus launch a feasibility study and is now committed to developing specifications in connection with the Regions to define the characteristics of the future hydrogen with TER.
Creation of a Steering Committee
A steering committee bringing together the various stakeholders was set up to monitor the progress of the various stages, to share the launch of the first actions (specifications for the first train, hydrogen distribution sites, etc.) and to clarify the situation. content and financing of the project.
Several criteria must be taken into account in order to grant the TER hydrogen project with the territorial energy policies and development strategies of the hydrogen ecosystems and their production and distribution infrastructures (electrolysis, storage, gas station). This hydrogen ecosystem can be feeding other modes of transport such as coaches, taxis. But also building heating systems or heating networks.
Investments will also be needed in maintenance centers to ensure the maintenance of future hydrogen trains.
SNCF is also developing other solutions, such as the hybrid TER that recovers and stores braking energies or biofuels, with the ambition to master all these technologies and to characterize the relevant uses that will no doubt be complementary to the future.
“With the Regions, we must find the conditions for the integration of this new material, favorable to the energy transition, also contributes to improving the reliability of the TER, to its competitiveness, its attractiveness and the maintenance of the highest level of security for travelers, in line with our CAP TER 2020 program “explained Frank LACROIX. “Hydrogen has undeniable advantages for the TER and the Regions. It is an alternative to costly electrification of lines ”
“We want to move quickly with the regions that wish, and to control as quickly as possible all aspects of the hydrogen ecosystem applied to the railway sector. We are aiming for first trials in 2021 and a first circulation in the first quarter of 2022 “announced Pierre Izard.