Solutions for a more sustainable railway

Adopting a rail transport system is, by definition, a first step towards sustainable development, helping us to meet our growing transport while generating less pollution than road traffic. However, it is now crucial that we find better solutions in terms of approaches, processes and materials in order to design more sustainable infrastructure. Although the railway can seem like a technical field that leaves little room for manoeuvre, several solutions now make it possible to meet this objective.

Adopting a rail transport system is, by definition, a first step towards sustainable development, helping us to meet our growing transport while generating less pollution than road traffic. However, it is now crucial that we find better solutions in terms of approaches, processes and materials in order to design more sustainable infrastructure. Although the railway can seem like a technical field that leaves little room for manoeuvre, several solutions now make it possible to meet this objective.


© Samuel Duplaix

The sustainable development issues related to the creation of a railway platform are:

  • Reducing and optimising infrastructure costs
  • Combating soil sealing (water permeability)
  • Using recycled materials in railway design
  • Reducing use of high carbon footprint materials such as concrete
  • Choosing more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes

The solutions presented below help to respond to some of these issues. Their implementation on several projects carried out by Egis ensures that their implementation is controlled.


Permeable tracks

Permeable tracks increase the volume of the substrate and thus its soil water capacity, limiting the need for watering and maintenance as well as the volume of concrete needed to build the platform. These tracks must be laid on stronger, load-bearing structures.
+ Higher substrate thickness
+ Lower amount of concrete
+ Reduced watering requirements and therefore operating costs
− Investment cost: ~4 to 25% more expensive

Rail covering using recycled tyres

This is an emerging solution that turns the rubber layer on tyres into a refined aggregate bound by a stable agent that can be used to wrapping rails.
+ Good compression resistance
+ Several suppliers available
+ Ability to dispense with rail joints

Electric welding

This solution concerns the use of electrical welding over thermite welding. There are two types of electrical welds: flash welding (rare) and arc welding. This is an emerging topic for which the industrial process in France is not yet fully complete, but which Egis is trying to develop.

+ No storage
+ Quicker to carry out
+ No harmful fumes
+ Less waste produced

Track on asphalt

+ Decrease in track bed thickness (~ 9cm)
+ Faster work
+ Reduced costs (savings of 5 to 15%)
+ Decrease in greenhouse gas emissions
+ No need for formwork
+ Can be used as a site track

− Need to increase the load-bearing capacity of earthworks
− Not possible to put asphalt along the entire distance (floating slabs near façades)


Routing of equipment by rail

Rails and sleepers represent a considerable amount of material to be transported to the site. To limit the impact of the many trucks needed to transport this equipment, it is wise to opt for rail transport whenever possible (where a freight and available storage space is nearby).

Non-concrete multi-tube trench

Replacing concrete multi-tube works with a multi-tube system using HDPE pipes and filling the trench with embankments
+ Financial savings of €100/ml
+ Less concrete
+ Reduced CO2 emissions (up to 70 kg eqC/ml)
− Difficult to implement in an urban environment

Single multi-tube system

Implementation of one multi-tube system instead of two
+ Less infrastructure works
+ Financial savings
+ Less concrete
− Risks of bundling strong and weak currents
− Safety issues

Key projects

  • Besançon Tramway: Inaugurated in August 2014, the design and construction of the city’s first tram line was carried out in accordance with a finely-tuned budget. With regard to the track itself,
    a green permeable platform was installed over 5.5 km of line. The sustainable development benefits include the limited volume of concrete used, no need for automatic watering systems and the planting of grass seedlings and species that consume little water and require little maintenance.
  • Line E of the Grenoble tramway, which commenced service in April 2014, covers a distance of 11.5 km. About 2,300 linear metres of track were built using non-concrete multi-tube
    systems in HDPE pipe. The choice of system has environmental and economic benefits with a total of €230,000 in savings made. The same choice was made for the full length of Grenoble’s line B extension (excluding crossing points).
  • Tram lines A and B in Dijon entered into service at the end of 2012. Spanning a total length of 19.7km, 90% of the tramway platform was built on asphalt (excluding floating
    slabs and certain intersections). Replacing the foundation concrete with asphalt concrete made it possible to reduce the depth of the earthworks, the as well as the cost and duration of the work, and provided greater flexibility during the construction phase.
  • The tram platform of Line B of the Strasbourg tramway, opened in 2000, was made of 800 linear metres of asphalt concrete. This ability to look back over 15 years without anomaly has confirmed the benefit and suitability of this solution.


The road is the future of the autonomous vehicle

In response to the emergence of new challenges in mobility, engineers, designers and car manufacturers are developing new, and at times revolutionary, projects to change the way we get around. Among these projects, autonomous (or driverless) vehicles are a major breakthrough. Their development is currently the subject of highly advanced research in infrastructure engineering and mobile robotics in countries around the world.


Smart car (HUD) and Autonomous self-driving mode vehicle on metro city road with graphic sensor signal.

Scalable capacity shuttle buses in Dubai, UAE

The island of “Bluewaters” is a new tourist destination developed by Meraas, a real estate company based in Dubai. An autonomous Ground Rapid Transit (GRT) system will connect Bluewaters Island with the Dubai metro in the residential district in under 5 minutes. Using a dedicated, majority elevated, 2.8 km road comprised of two separate lanes of traffic, it offers shared travel for between 6 and 24 passengers per vehicle according to the time of day. The service offers scalable capacity, ranging from an on-demand service during off-peak times to a system that can carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour, per direction at rush hours. 2getthere was selected to supply the transit system and autonomous transport vehicles. In partnership with Parsons and Atkins, Egis will be in charge of the design and construction engineering of the designated road, a station and the depot/maintenance centre/control centre, as well as the integration of the project as a whole. The Bluewaters GRT project is a first as a scalable capacity, autonomous shuttle-based transport service. In rush hour, the planned GRT system offers capacities comparable to those of a light tramway type system.

A technology shift for the Jacksonville “people mover in the United States

As part of the “Ultimate Urban Circulator” project, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority, JTA, wants to modernise its transit system.  This ambitious project consists of transitioning from the “Jacksonville Skyway” people mover, the city’s current, low-capacity, automated transit system built more than 30 years ago, to a new transport system based on autonomous vehicles. The JTA therefore launched a consultation process to commission a study on this project to fulfil its specific needs, plan the new system’s implementation over time, and benefit from the best possible technologies. Alongside its American partner Louis Berger, Egis is tasked with producing the design study for this autonomous vehicle transport system, which will be based on an array of existing technologies. The project, the second in the United States for the Louis Berger/Egis joint venture, is the first project to replace an existing people mover-type system with driverless shuttles.

Egis at the heart of innovative projects

Driverless shuttles are a hot topic at present and are seen as the transport solution of the future. This innovation is made possible through an extensive range of digital sensors (video cameras, radars, sonars, etc.) whose data is processed by specific processors and software. Thanks to these digital tools, the road can be reproduced in 3D using shape recognition (pavements, lane markings, obstacles, etc.). Artificial intelligence algorithms then make it possible to decide on the action to take on the vehicle controls. Autonomous shuttles will present many technological and legislative challenges. With these two new projects, Egis is demonstrating its innovation capabilities on the world stage, and its position as a major player in the transportation of tomorrow.

To find out more:

Carpooling as a solution to congestion

Of the 13.5 million people who drive to work every day, 90% travel alone. Increasing the average occupancy rate for commutes from 1.08 people per car (current rate in France) to 1.20, would solve the majority of traffic congestion problems. Egis promotes the use of carpooling by offering a full range of infrastructure (reserved lanes, carpooling rest stops, etc.) and equipment (signalling, enforcement, etc.), all while incorporating the requisite interfaces with systems for organising carpooling.


Our expertise

Travel and mobility studies

  • Regulatory analyses
  • Assessing the relevance of carpooling and the impact on traffic
  • Traffic modelling and simulation

Creation of reserved lanes

  • Comparison of different layout possibilities
  • Dynamic lane management opportunities
  • Location of carpool rest stops
  • Equipment, signalling and regulations

Introduction of carpool speed enforcement systems

  • Advisory speed cameras
  • Automated carpool speed checks
  • Sanctions for offenders

Launch and monitoring of the system’s operation

  • Strategies and operating policy
  • Development of the operating policy
  • Writing operating procedures

Development of specifications

focus interview
Carpooling is still in the experimental stages in France, but already projects are coming thick and fast. From La Rochelle to Grenoble, Bordeaux to Lyon, this new vision of the individual vehicle holds much promise:

  • A decrease in traffic congestion resulting from a reduced number of vehicles travelling on roads
  • A decrease in air pollutant emissions
  • A new travel option that works alongside existing transport solutions


Reducing speed for smoother and safer roads

Contrary to what people may think, a faster speed doesn’t always mean more cars can drive on a stretch of road…

In fact, the more the number of vehicles increases, the more a higher speed becomes problematic. The recommended safety distances are no longer sufficient, slower vehicles disrupt traffic flow, and certain vehicles changing lanes force other drivers to reduce their speed. Usually we then see an “accordion” effect in the traffic, or even a traffic jam pure and simple.

Whereas varying our speed can actually increase the capacity of the road. Driving at a slower speed on motorways and dual carriageways is a great way of reducing inter-vehicular distance and therefore limiting congestion and jams. Numerous experiments in dynamic speed regulation have been carried out thanks to Egis in France and in Europe, in particular in Great Britain on the M25 ring road around London, jointly managed by Egis and its British partners (Balfour Beatty and Atkins).


On the M25 in London, the system works
Known as the London Orbital, the M25 is the circular motorway that runs around Greater London, characterised by its numerous intersections. At 188 km long, it is the second longest ring road in Europe, after the one in Berlin (196 km) and the busiest road in the whole of the UK. 


The M25 was the first English motorway to test out speed regulation in 1995, followed by the national “Smart Motorways” programme (GBP 6 billion) launched in 2014 by the UK government. Now, Europe’s second longest ring road is fully equipped with dynamic speed panels and cameras to control the 200,000 vehicles a day driving on the busiest sections. And to prevent the English from seeing the M25 as “the world’s biggest car park”, various prevention campaigns have been broadcast on the BBC to remind users that it is sometimes better to slightly reduce your speed to allow traffic to become more fluid.” Laurent Charles Nicolas, M25 project director for Egis

An ITS strategy for safer travel

Substantial work has been carried out by Egis and its Walloon partners to assess the operation of the road and motorway network in Wallonia.

© Ambrozinio –

Particular attention has been paid to future innovations in the ITS* field, such as:

  • The introduction of dedicated carpooling lanes,
  • The creation of connected vehicle corridors (C-Roads),
  • The collation of incidents using social media,
  • The integration of eCall (“emergency call “)
  • A mobile app dedicated to Wallonia’s motorways
  • And information on the HGV spaces available at roadside service areas.


Find out more about Egis Mobility solutions (Press Kit 2018)

*ITS: Intelligent Transport System


Zero carbon emission bus fleet

Keen to become more involved in ecological and energy transition, Orléans Métropole is planning to completely convert its bus fleet into “zero carbon emission” vehicles by 2023. Egis teams have been chosen to provide project management consultancy in this gradual transition to an all-electric fleet.

copyright : Heliox


Example of an “on route” charging system (source: Heliox)

Assisting Orléans Métropole in this highly ambitious project has proven to be particularly complex. With around 100 standard buses and 50 articulated buses, the project represents a triple challenge for Egis’s teams: technical, legal and financial.

  • In close collaboration with the Métropole, Egis teams will develop a comprehensive and operational strategy for conversion of the bus fleet, including:
  • Technical definition of customer needs
  • Property planning and organisational strategy for depots and maintenance centres
  • An economic and financial study for setting up contracts
  • Legal and administrative assistance for contracting
  • The administrative and contractual follow-up of these agreements

The Group also assisted with the drafting of tender documents as well as with procurement.
Egis has already led several similar projects aimed at modernising existing urban transport networks and speeding up ecological and energy transition in cities. This is the case in Aix-en-Provence, where Egis is supporting Aix-Marseille-Provence Métropole and RTD13 with the acquisition of 15 express service buses and their rapid charging system in depots.

See the press release (french version)

Recycling public transport energy

In Lyon, Egis has established a pooling and recycling system for braking energy by making the underground train and tram power networks connected

When they brake, underground trains and trams can return the energy used to the electrical distribution network. Recovering this energy and recycling as much of it as possible is the idea behind the system of “pooling of electric traction systems” designed by Egis on part of Lyon’s transport network (TCL). This braking energy powers the traction of transport systems, but can also provide electricity to equipment such as lighting stations or vehicles.


GoSafe, the speed camera network that saves lives



In a bid to encourage drivers in Ireland to comply with speed limits, Egis is now part of the GoSafe (1) project: the scheme monitors speed throughout the country, and draws up reports of infringements which are then processed by the relevant authorities. Since 2010, the project has helped to significantly reduce the amount of road fatalities in the areas monitored: fatal crashes have almost halved (2). In light of this success, the project has just been renewed for another six years.

Since 2010, Egis has been operating the Irish national speed monitoring system via the company GoSafe. The assignment covers all the necessary services for controlling speed using mobile cameras – from deploying the vehicles and staff required to monitor Ireland’s roads, to processing the information collected in a centralised back office. For Egis, this is a key project in the field of enforcement (control and sanction), currently developing worldwide, for speed control-type applications and free-flow electronic toll projects.

The Irish authorities have carried out an assessment of the system: the benefits are five times greater than the costs. Some key figures: every year, the system saves 23 lives, it avoids 40 serious accidents, and generates €70 million in savings for Irish society.


(1) GoSafe’s shareholders include Egis Projects (42%, an Egis entity), Spectra (42%, an Irish company specialising in image processing) and Redflex (16%, an Australian in-vehicle speed camera provider).

(2) detailing the key points of the cost-benefit analysis of this approach.




Cable transportation, a solution that overcomes many planning obstacles

A more compact, low-equipment tramway

 Téléphérique de Brest

In recent years, a new movement has been observed in urban areas. In places where trams, BRTs and metro systems are struggling to overcome obstacles (rivers, motorway bridges, etc.) and significant changes in elevation – except by creating very expensive tunnels -, cable transportation is proving a resounding success. It is beneficial in terms of the scope of the transport service, is economical, and provides access to new landscapes, by offering a new dimension not only to everyday travel, but also to the urban space.

Egis’s experience in cable transportation projects gives it a strong positioning throughout the engineering chain, both in the upstream phases such as feasibility and opportunity studies, where Egis’s expertise in the decision-making process is recognised and essential, as well as in the most downstream phases including technical design studies and project implementation. The examples of the Grasse funicular railway and the Brest cable car illustrate how Egis has assisted decision makers, from the definition of their long-term transport project right through to the realisation of the project itself.


  • Acceptability: The acceptability of a cable transport project by the different parties involved (transport organisation authorities, communities, economic actors, local residents), is ultimately the key to its feasibility. Particular attention should be paid to overflight issues and regulatory matters.
  • Urban integration: While cable transport impacts the landscape, it also creates a mobile view of the city and therefore offers the possibility of enriching the perception of the city’s landscape in a way that is accessible to all. The challenge is to design a project that creates a feeling of harmony between the transport infrastructure and the urban landscape.
  • The choice of system: This is strongly influenced by the service requirements (number of stations and expected customer traffic) as well as the local context (topographic, environmental, urban, and so on).  Each system has its limitations, in terms of crossing constraints, ease of use and operation.


Since the early 2000s, Egis has participated in the definition of a network of dedicated public transport corridors in the Brest urban area. In 2011, as part of the discussions concerning the third phase of development of a dedicated PT network, Egis analysed the different ways of crossing the Penfeld. Following this study, the cable car solution was chosen. This solution will connect Brest city centre to the plateau through an infrastructure that can be used by pedestrians and soft transport modes alike. It will have limited impact on existing buildings thanks to the perfect integration of the system, particularly at stations (creation of an underground station). Since 2012, Egis has acted as agent to the project owner for the realisation of the cable car project. The designer-builder was appointed in 2014 and work began in the summer of 2015. The commissioning of what will be the first urban cable car in France is planned for autumn 2016. “It is the first cable car in France that is used in an urban context” said Nicolas Chapuis, CEO of BMF Remontées Mécaniques France – on 17/08/2016


Because Grasse city centre is separated from the train station by a considerable incline, Egis conducted a feasibility study to analyse fast and attractive travel options for linking the two. During the study, it became clear that a funicular method was the most suitable solution, because of environmental integration constraints (particularly topographic) and traffic issues. Egis currently provides project management consultancy as part of the design and construction of the Grasse funicular railway.


In January 2016, Egis was assigned to provide project management on behalf of the Orleans Metropolitan area to build a cable transportation system connecting Les Aubrais railway station to the ambitious INTERIVES office and housing area currently under development. The project 400m-long project will cross a wide SNCF railway that is in constant use, including the Paris-Toulouse line and the Paris-Tours line. The two project sites will naturally integrate into their surroundings – at ground level by the Interives Joint Development Zone (ZAC) and a few metres from the ground at Les Aubrais station. By the station, there will be a complete multi-modal transport hub: Train, tram, taxis, buses and soft modes. The design, build and maintenance contract will be launched in the first half of 2016 for commissioning in the second half of 2018. Find out more about the Orleans Cable Car – french website


In south-west Toulouse, which suffers from a lack of public transport services, a major synergy is being organised between Paul Sabatier University, Rangueil teaching hospital and Oncopôle specialist cancer centre. At the request of Grand Toulouse, Egis studied the feasibility of a funicular solution to meet the challenges of the routes required while considering the importance of the study area’s physical constraints (Pech hill, crossing the Garonne, etc.). Beyond its ability to overcome physical obstacles, a cable car also fulfils requirements in terms of capacity and accessibility in reasonable economic conditions.

And also…

Boulogne-sur-Mer cable car (France), Pays-d’Aix cable car(France), Grand Parc de Miribel-Jonage cable car (France), Bagnolet-La Noue cable car (France), La Soufrière cable car (Guadeloupe), Givors Ville -Plateau de Montrond telecabine (France), Cable car studies for Cilaos and Salazie (Réunion).


myJINI, a package of services to the motorist who relies on an embedded box.

BNV Mobility, a subsidiary of Egis in the Netherlands is developing a package of services to the motorist (private individuals) since 2015 and which is based on an embedded box. The embedded box is the first step towards the smart car or the connected vehicle. The data reported by the box allows to develop a set of services that facilitates motorists daily life.

Some examples of services: trips management tool with an allocation of business kilometers versus private trips, eco-driving, style and dangerousness of driving that can trigger a reduction in the insurance premium, gas card, rewards if the different indicators are green. The driver subscribes to a monthly “basic” or “premium” according to the services they want to receive. This service package is enriched regularly. Such a case could automatically pay a parked road for example. Many options are in development. Today myJINI has 2000 registered motorists.

For more information, the website myJINI (in Dutch)boitier-myjinicarte-myjiniimage-myjiny