The future shuttles that the SNCF wants to launch on the small lines

In Brittany, as in other regions, TER users regularly demand more frequencies in the passage of trains, even the reuse of disused lines in order to better meet the needs of daily mobility, towards work or studies, in particular .

Less expensive and low carbon

The SNCF, which aims to double the share of trains in travel in France by 2030, will develop, in the coming years, innovative projects for light trains and rail-road shuttles intended for local areas. A way of indicating to the regions, some of which are beginning to open their network to competition, that in addition to TER, the group could offer them cheaper and more carbon-free mobility solutions for the last kilometres, including in sectors rural areas, while facilitating connections with intra- and inter-regional lines and main lines.

The 80-seat Draisy light rail project on which the SNCF is starting to work with industrial partners (SNCF)

A hybrid rail-road shuttle on short lines

These projects, which are starting as part of the innovation component of the recovery plan, bear the code names TLI, Draisy or Flexy. TLI for innovative light rail with around 100 seats, less expensive, lighter and less energy-consuming than a conventional railcar. And then two even lighter formulas. Draisy takes the form of a small 100% electric train with energy storage, with a capacity of 80 seats including 30 seated, capable of traveling at 100 km/h on dedicated lines. As for Flexy, it is a rail-road shuttle with 9 seats capable of connecting stations to town centers via small lines currently closed from 10 to 30 km.

Flexy is a rail-road hybrid shuttle that SNCF plans to develop on currently disused railway lines.
Flexy is a hybrid rail-road shuttle that SNCF plans to develop on currently disused railway lines (SNCF)

Deployment expected in 2028

The first experiments are foreseen from 2024-2025 on pilot lines, and the deployment – if these projects worked with industrial partners prove to be economically viable – from 2028. “We make 10% of passengers per km and 0, 3% of CO2 emissions today. We want to do even better in terms of carbon-free mobility,” says Carole Desnost, Director of Technologies, Innovation and Projects for the SNCF Group. “Our bet in the territories is to have an approach based on metropolises, but also to transform secondary lines into testing grounds and then solutions adapted to needs so that people say to themselves: I am far from a station but not far from a railway line, I will be able to take the train tomorrow”, she adds.

It is potentially more trains running and therefore an improved offer

Will these innovations promote better timing of regional trains? “Less expensive materials, less energy-consuming with more services around, it is potentially more trains running and therefore an improved offer”, answers Carole Desnost. The SNCF devotes 100 M€ per year to innovation, a modest financial share with regard to the industrial investments to be deployed, but “a kind of leverage effect to support the development of a railway sector of the future”.