SNCF Voyageurs and Alstom present first modified TER battery-powered train

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Alstom and French passenger train operator SNCF Voyageurs have presented the first battery-powered TER regional train, which is a modified version of an existing electric-diesel trainset, set to enter commercial service from December 2024.

The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Hauts-de-France, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Occitanie Pyrénées-Méditerranée and Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions in France have been working with SNCF Voyageurs and Alstom since 2021 on the project to develop battery-powered trains to help reduce CO2 emissions on non-electric lines.

Overall, five dual-mode electric-diesel trainsets are to be modified by replacing their diesel engines with batteries to become 100% electric. Some of these trainsets have been in service for almost 20 years. Once equipped with cleaner and more environmentally friendly traction systems, they will be put back into commercial service to run on electrified and non-electrified lines for a further 20 years.

The first battery-powered trainset entrusted by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region left the Crespin Alstom site during the summer and has just begun its dynamic tests.

“Decarbonising mobility is at the heart of Alstom’s strategy, and the battery solution completes our range of relevant solutions, along with hydrogen and hybridisation, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from mobility,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, president of Alstom France. “In this respect, we are proud to be able to present the first battery-powered TER, developed in collaboration with SNCF Voyageurs and with the support of the five partner regions.”

Initial testing

A static and dynamic development phase at up to 60km/h took place during the summer of 2023 at the Crespin Alstom site to check the train’s operation and test its battery-powered traction mode. The first trials show that the battery charging and discharging system is working properly.

Tests are now continuing at the Centre d’essais ferroviaires at Bar-le-Duc, with validation and certification tests at up to 160km/h. The train’s new traction modes will be tested to validate the various route simulation models under operating conditions identical to those in commercial service.

Next steps

The final phase of tests on the French national railway network is scheduled for December 2023 and January 2024. These tests should prove that the train is compatible with the existing French infrastructure.

They will enable SNCF Voyageurs to finalize the admission file that will be submitted to the Etablissement Public de Sécurité Ferroviaire (EPSF), with a view to obtaining the necessary authorizations for its commercial service. 

The aim is for this new so called “AGC batteries” model of regional train to be authorized to enter commercial service as from December 2024 in the partner regions, during an initial experimental period, enabling the technology to be rolled out on a larger scale.

The overall budget for the project, including the pre-production run of five trainsets, is €40.2m, co-financed by the partners as follows: each region contributing €5.7m, Alstom €5.5m and SNCF €6m.