Alstom published the environmental declaration for its new generation of beacons. SmartBalise is an eco-designed product, with minimized environmental impact all the way from manufacture to end-of-life. Its environmental performance is presented in the declaration, available for consultation today on the PEP Ecopassport® website in compliance with the requirements of ISO 14025.

The beacons — those yellow boxes located along the tracks — allow the train to retrieve signalling and safety data sent by the control centre with the help of an encoder, which acquires data related to the status of the signalling. The SmartBalise integrates the encoder function within a conventional beacon. This "two-in-one" approach leads to significant environmental gains, according to the company.

By comparing four SmartBalises used over a period of 20 years with four previous-generation balises linked up to a data management module, the results obtained over the lifecycle of the beacon include a 75% reduction of energy obtained from fossil-fuel sources, an 86% reduction in energy consumption, corresponding to the annual consumption of a 400 m² low-consumption building, and an 81% reduction in water pollution, corresponding to the consumption, all uses combined, of 4,000 people over a whole year.

“With more than 100 experts in ecodesign, energy and materials, we are continuously optimizing the environmental performance of our solutions and promoting the image of rail, which remains the most sustainable mode of motorised transport,” said Véronique Andries, director, Ecodesign, at Alstom.

Because electrical and electronic equipment represents 11% of the mass of a train but 40% of its manufacturing impact, Alstom engineers have also adopted ecodesign in the development of electronic products in order to significantly reduce the company’s environmental footprint.

This approach was rewarded in 2014 with the extension of the ISO 14001 site certification to product design and a maturity level of three out of four obtained under the AFAQ ecodesign evaluation model. Alstom’s Villeurbanne site thus became the first certified company in Rhône-Alpes to receive two-fold recognition for this expertise.

In addition to the SmartBalise, significant results in ecodesign have been obtained for Alstom's electronic products, such as the improved environmental performance of a signalling bay, with increased computing power (leading to a 42% reduction in energy consumption) or a 54% reduction in the energy consumption of the on-board computer for urban signalling, according to the company.

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