France boasts one of the world’s finest rail networks, the 14th largest in the world and the 2nd in Europe behind Germany. With its 27,500 km of rail track, France is banking on innovative trains to decarbonize the transport sector, as rail accounts for only 1% of French greenhouse gas emissions. The aspiration is to convince more users to do without their cars and instead travel by train, including in rural areas, so as to double the modal share of rail by the end of the decade.
The SNCF, the historical national operator of the French rail network, is hard at work on multiple innovative projects, in particular light and modular electric trains to revive small lines, reducing operating and maintenance costs, and enabling rural dwellers to move away from an entirely car-based lifestyle.
Flexy, the rail-road shuttle that will foster mobility in rural areas
Developed in partnership with the French start-up Milla, Michelin Group, and the technological research institute Railenium, Flexy is an electric shuttle that can run on rail as well as road. With capacity for nine passengers, it could be deployed from 2025 on small, closed lines (10 to 30 km) to connect villages to each other. First tests are planned for 2024.
Draisy, a small modular electric train with 80 passengers and 30 seats
Draisy is a fully electric modular train with battery storage, designed to promote the use of short lines under 100 km in length by reducing the need for infrastructure. Recharging will be possible in five minutes at rail stations. Developed with Alsatian manufacturer Lohr, Draisy is expected to offer a capacity that is precisely matched to needs, and great flexibility of use to limit operating costs on low-traffic lines. An experimental phase will begin in 2025 and the train will be in service in 2027.
The TLI (innovative light train) will carry 100 seated passengers for only 10 tonnes
Designed with manufacturers Alstom and CAF, this light train will use the tracks of the national network, in contrast to Flexy and Draisy, which will use small lines. Like a current regional train in terms of capacity, its advantage lies in its low weight, which is almost half that of a conventional regional train: it will reduce maintenance costs and track wear. Commercial operation is planned to start in 2028-2029.
La French Fab is working to reduce the carbon footprint of transport with innovative trains!