The hybrid Regiolis set will be capable of switching between battery power, diesel traction and electric traction from the catenary. The regions will cover the cost of supplying a Regiolis train from Occitanie’s fleet for the trials and, along with Alstom, will invest €16.6m in the project.

Commercial operation is planned to commence in 2021 followed by full-scale deployment in 2022.

Alstom says it is planning to reduce the train’s energy consumption by 20%, and according to Mr Jean-Baptiste Eyemeoud, Alstom France president, hybridisation of diesel fleets is a realistic technical and economic solution to reduce emissions and costs for users.

Design and production will take place at Alstom’s plant in Reichshoffen while Tarbes will provide traction drive systems and Villeurbanne onboard IT systems. As well as emissions, the new trains are expected to reduce maintenance costs.

“All our partners accepted the challenge of producing the first hybrid train as quickly as possible, which is exactly what will happen in 2020,” says Mr Pierre Izard, SNCF’s chief rail system and technology officer. “It’s a milestone on our road to more eco-friendly rolling stock.”