TER: from Paris to Normandy by train… by rapeseed

If Normandy butter is famous, all the trains that run daily between Paris and Granville have been running on rapeseed oil since Tuesday, April 6. The fifteen “Regiolis” trainsets dedicated to this line are in fact the subject of a three-month experiment. All will use only B100 fuel, made with 100% vegetable oil, instead of traditional diesel.

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There is practically no technical transformation to be carried out, either on the engines or at the distribution station, we say to the SNCF. The B100 can be replaced almost immediately. ” The experiment between the SNCF and the Normandy region, owner of the rolling stock, started life-size after having only been carried out on a test bench. Last week, the tanks of the distribution station located in Granville were emptied of their diesel to be filled exclusively with B100.

60% less CO2 emissions

According to SNCF, the use of this biofuel would reduce CO emissions by 60%2from field to rail ”And all the more so since the plants are transformed into fuel near Verdun after being picked up in the region.

This experiment is part of the “Planeter” program of TER SNCF, the regional trains branch of the railway company. It aims to reduce CO emissions2 regional trains of 100,000 tonnes per year by 2025, in particular by carrying out experiments on new engines (hydrogen, hybrid, batteries, biofuels, biogas) for its trains which now run on traditional diesel.

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A quarter of the 2,200 TER trains still run entirely on diesel. And more than 60% of CO emissions2 from SNCF TER come from diesel traction. ” We won’t be able to electrify everywhere, so we have to find solutions », Said a source to SNCF. In this case, the Paris-Granville line is only electrified over about a third of the distance of 330 km.

1,000 liters of biofuel per hectare of rapeseed

The railway company is experimenting with several engines as an alternative to diesel, explains Maria Lee, a specialist in these issues at Sia Patners. Not all solutions are suitable for all types of trains, for example because of their greater or lesser power or the engine model, or for all lines, for example depending on the electrification of the network or the orientations desired by regions or communities.

An SNCF brochure intended for customers of these trains indicates that one hectare of rapeseed gives 500 liters of edible oil, 1,000 liters of biofuel and 1,900 kg of meal intended for animal feed.

For the promoters of the B100 solution, the production of biofuel from French plants does not pose a problem of deprivation of agricultural products for the population, as in Latin American countries for example.

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Sylvain Angerand, coordinator of the NGO Canopée and spokesperson for “biodiversity” for Friends of the Earth, is more circumspect: “ In the 2000s, Europe exported rapeseed oil and must import it today because part of the production is used for biofuels at the expense of other crops possible for human consumption. “.


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