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“Ecodesign”: a key feature of SNCF Réseau product strategy

What is ecodesign?

Ecodesign consists of making allowance for the environmental impact of products or projects from the very start of the design and development process and of minimising their adverse effects throughout their lifecycle:

  • Pre-production: in the choice of raw materials or their extraction and in using recycled or bio-sourced materials
  • In the production phase: containing pollution in all its forms and applying the “avoid, reduce, mitigate” principle to each potential impact
  • During operations and maintenance: making efficient use of energy (reducing consumption and emissions), extending the useful life and “reparability” of materials (combatting obsolescence)
  • At end of lifecycle: re-use and recycling

One of the principles of ecodesign is that improving ecological performance and containing environmental impact can create value by obviating future problems such as hazardous materials, products hard and costly to eliminate or negative media buzz.


Ecodesign at SNCF Réseau

For SNCF Réseau, ecodesign means building environmental performance into the design and technical development of its products (rails, wires, overhead lines, etc.), systems (signalling, telecoms) or projects (network renewal, modernisation and expansion), in particular by:

  • scaling down the use of non-renewable materials or resources (fossil fuels and materials, water, etc.)
  • boosting the network’s energy efficiency (reducing or changing maintenance consumption habits, making use of low consumption components)
  • preventing damage to the environment (water cycles, noise, biodiversity, etc.)
  • improving network resilience to the effects of climate change (flooding, heat waves, drought, snow, wind, etc.)

At SNCF Réseau, ecodesign consists of projects developed for optimum environmental performance and lifecycle cost efficiency, yet fully compliant with technical standards and operating safety requirements.


In practice

For the Technical Division, the task consists of rethinking products and systems (lifecycle analysis, eco-designed products and innovations, adaptation of technical specifications and standards), while the Procurement Division is working on developing purchasing procedures to cater to environmental performance targets.

For station accessibility projects, a holistic approach is now adopted, while for modernisation projects, multicriteria analysis is used to identify the best and most effective solutions.

For track renewal operations, action consists of working with the teams in the field to generalise the practice of re-using parts and materials dismantled during maintenance and repair operations on high-speed and backbone lines.

For all new projects in the pipeline, ecodesign principles are enforced right from the start and paired with targets at all stages through to completion.


Points to remember:

  • By making the environmental dimension an integral part of its working practices, SNCF Réseau is determined to ensure the long-term sustainability of its high-performance network and add a further feather to the rail-based mobility cap.
  • SNCF Réseau has committed to building environmental factors into all its products and projects from the design stage in order to lessen negative impact and maximise positive spinoffs nationwide.
  • Ecodesign extends to all sectors and branches and to all project stages. It offers the promise of greater efficiency and value creation from design and to end of lifecycle.
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