SNCF announced it has committed to bringing the first hydrogen fuel-cell train into operation by 2022. At a meeting of the regional operators, TER CEO, Frank Lacroix and SNCF deputy CEO – rail systems and technologies, Pierre Izard, announced the launch of a feasibility study and said they were committed working with the regions to define the specifications of the future use of hydrogen fuel-cell rolling stock on the reigional network.
50% of the TER fleet is currently diesel powered while 20% is bi-model (diesel and electric), but SNCF president, Guillaume Pepy, announced recently the company had set a goal of removing diesel operation completely by 2035.
While rail accounts for less than 1% of greenhouse gas emissions in France, SNCF says there is still room for improvement. A steering committee has been created to oversee the project, which will identify details such as funding sources and a suitable pilot line for the first hydrogen train.
SNCF says a number of factors will determine where the project will launch, including regional energy policies and the development of infrastructure for the production and distribution of hydrogen. It says this infrastructure could potentially feed other industries, such as heating, and modes of transport such as taxis and buses.
This September, SNCF announced a partnership with Alstom and the French regions of Grand-Est, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, and Occitanie to test a battery-electric regional train from 2020.