Ecology: TGV Lyria, the champion of travel between France and Switzerland

TGV Lyria has always striven to offer a service that combines convenience and speed and respects the environment.
Incidentally, the environmental factor takes second place in your choice of train over other means of transport between France and Switzerland (source: BVA 2021).

Are you undecided whether to travel by air, road or rail? Are you wondering which mode of transport is the most ecological and quite simply, what your carbon footprint is?
The response is simple: the train. The proof is below.

In summary

  1. TGV Lyria is by far the most ecologically virtuous form of transport between France and Switzerland, and the one that offers you the best use of your time.
  2. In addition to the train journey itself, the entire rail ecosystem demonstrates the lowest carbon footprint of all transport ecosystems.
  3. TGV Lyria offers specific answers for reducing the carbon footprint even more.

Electricity: the cleanest energy serves TGV Lyria

By running on electricity, our trains do not emit CO2. The electricity consumed for the journey has been produced upstream, however, and this has generated CO2 emissions.

This is what is known as traction energy: the energy consumed when operating plus the energy produced upstream.

If we look at traction energy, TGV Lyria displays the best environmental performance of all the modes of transport between France and Switzerland.

TGV Lyria C02 energy impact

The rail ecosystem, energy-efficient

The train does not emit CO2 when operating. The rail infrastructure (rails, maintenance centres, etc.) is often thought to increase the carbon footprint by emitting a great deal of CO2, as opposed to the air or road ecosystem. In reality, our infrastructure is the least polluting.

The rail ecosystem is also environmentally friendly as it takes you directly into the centre of the city.  
Indeed, the location of stations in the city centres gives access to a variety of collective modes of transport, further limiting our carbon footprint. To this can also be added the savings made on the pre- and post-journeys as well as the optimum use of travel time.

What more can you ask for?

Our carbon footprint in figures

  • TGV Lyria emits up to 30 times less CO2 than air travel, by taking account of the global footprint (traction energy + rail ecosystem).
  • If we compare rail transport to the electric car, both of which work using electricity, we note that the carbon footprint of a TGV Lyria passenger remains 6 times lower than for the electric car.

And yes, clean energy is not everything. It is by offering high capacity transport that the carbon footprint is reduced.

Comparison of modes of transport between France and Switzerland


Carbon footprint (kg equivalent, CO2 / passenger / journey)


TGV Lyria




Electric car

Geneva > Paris






Lausanne > Paris






Basel > Paris






Zurich > Paris






Geneva > Marseille






Our ecological commitment

Our new trains with low environmental impact

TGV completely renewed the fleet in 2019 to offer you greater convenience as well as further reducing their carbon footprint. By now transporting up to 500 passengers compared to 320 before with almost identical consumption, TGV Lyria demonstrates even further reduced CO2 emissions. This is innovation serving sustainable development.

TGV Lyria new ecological trains

All details from the analysis:

See here the full INFRAS study for TGV Lyria

Methodology for the study:

TGV Lyria carbon footprint methodology

Our other activities which help the environment

  • Automatic door closing during maintenance operations to reduce the energy consumption associated with cooling trains in summer and heating in winter.
  • Installation of new LED lighting on board, which have a better performance in terms of energy.
  • Training drivers in ecological driving. Adapting driving to the topography of the track reduces CO2 emissions by 7 to 8%.
  • Progressive adaptation of new aerodynamic train fronts from 2022.

Further information: Ecological SNCF projects.