The French Railway Industries Association (FIF) and national rail company SNCF have revealed a White Paper outlining the French rail industry’s decarbonisation ambitions. 

Alongside promoting the modal shift to rail as a way of decreasing emissions overall, the white paper also lists issues such as increasing the capacity of the country’s rail network, improving the energy efficiency of rolling stock, and improving the sustainability of buildings. 

Louis Nègre, President of the FIF, said: “Innovative rolling stock, eco-responsible infrastructure, and renewable energies are emerging as the pillars of a new railway era. And it is with immense pride that we see the numerous initiatives taken within our sector to advance this vital cause. 

“We know that the path to a decarbonized rail sector is strewn with challenges, but it is also lined with opportunities.” 

As part of the white paper, the organisations said the industry would make two major commitments, including the creation of a roadmap to decarbonisation that would outline the industry’s trajectory and its greenhouse gas objectives, in line with the previous commitment to achieve net zero by 2050. 

Additionally, the paper outlines a plan to create a central body to monitor the industry’s progress with the founding of a steering committee dedicated to decarbonisation, co-hosted by the FIF and SNCF along with major manufacturers and operators from the industry. 

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By GlobalData

SNCF and FIF said that the committee would be tasked with helping and encouraging the production of emissions reports by 2025 and promoting and monitoring the implementation of decarbonisation action plans. 

SNCF CEO Jean-Pierre Farandou said that the white paper had formed the team to accelerate decarbonisation in the French rail industry, thanking Nègre and the other contributors for mobilising to reduce their carbon footprint. 

He said: “If the train is to virtuous thanks to the use of carbon-free energy, the entire rail sector must increase its efforts to reduce its emissions. 

“‘Your carbon is my carbon’, could be described as the slogan that has mobilised the SNCF and the FIF to share the solutions gathered in this white paper.” 

Publication of the paper, and its mention of the modal shift towards rail, line up with the recent announcement by French Transport Minister Clément Beaune who announced that the country would be introducing its own unlimited rail pass for €49 ($52.5) a month, in the style of Germany’s Deutschlandticket, to encourage more sustainable travel habits.