Circular mobility: Renovating to reduce consumption

In a world faced with increasingly pressing environmental challenges, the transition to more sustainable mobility has become a priority for local authorities. Among the innovative solutions available to reduce carbon footprints and promote the responsible use of resources, the renovation of public transport equipment is the key to a global strategy of circular mobility. By investing in the modernization and refurbishment of our public transport vehicles, we can reduce our environmental impact, extend their useful life and thus contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly future.

Circular mobility

Circular mobility aims to minimize the use of natural resources by promoting reuse, renovation and recycling. It is part of a closed-loop logic in which end-of-life products become raw materials for new products. Applied to public transport, circular mobility encourages the renovation and modernization of existing vehicles rather than their complete replacement, thus helping to preserve natural resources while reducing waste. Rather than simply replacing end-of-life vehicles, extending their service life through careful renovation offers significant benefits in terms of preserving the environment and reducing waste.

In the field of heavy-duty refurbishment of transport vehicles, we can distinguish between the complete or partial repair of a vehicle that has been damaged by a collision or excessive wear, and the refurbishment of a vehicle that has been in service for several years: this is known as mid-life refurbishment. In this case, the renovation work carried out may include the repair or replacement of mechanical, electrical and bodywork parts, as well as the refurbishment of the vehicle’s interior, safety equipment or communication systems, all according to the operator’s specifications.

By giving vehicles a second life through refurbishment, a large proportion of vehicle components can be reused and recycled. This reduces the need to extract new raw materials and preserves natural resources, which can then be allocated to other sectors or sustainable initiatives. Renovation also means improving passenger comfort and rethinking the passenger experience. Renovated vehicles offer greater comfort and more modern equipment, enhancing the overall passenger experience and encouraging them to opt for public transport rather than more polluting individual modes of transport.

What are the impacts?

Extending the lifespan of public transport equipment offers a number of advantages that fit in perfectly with the logic of circular mobility. Maintaining the fleet of transport vehicles helps to reduce the carbon footprint of vehicles by avoiding the manufacture of new ones, and contributes, by limiting CO2 emissions, to the fight against global warming. Renovation also makes it possible to incorporate more advanced technologies and more efficient systems into public transport vehicles, improving their energy efficiency and overall performance.

The economic impact also comes into play. By refurbishing public transport vehicles, we extend their useful life. This means that the initial investments made to acquire these vehicles are optimized, and their amortization is extended over a longer period, reducing overall costs in the medium and long term. What’s more, by upgrading the vehicle’s equipment and technologies, we can also improve its performance and productivity, and thus its profitability.

Renovation of public transport equipment

Renovating public transport equipment is an essential step in implementing a circular mobility strategy, making the entire public transport network more sustainable. By encouraging the reuse and modernization of existing vehicles, we can reduce our carbon footprint, save precious natural resources and improve the overall efficiency of our mobility system. It’s time for this innovative vision to inspire the entire transportation industry and guide our choices towards a more environmentally-friendly future.

SAFRA's Renovation activity

SAFRA’s long-standing activity, which began in 1955, has evolved over the years, drawing on new skills acquired as work has progressed. Focused on public transport since the end of the 70s, by 2020 the business will have expanded into the more global passenger transport sector, with the renovation of the Occitanie region’s TER trains, for example. The first major contracts won for the renovation of bus fleets gradually gave way to the rail sector in the 2000s, with the first VAL metro trains, then streetcars and finally railcars. The expertise developed in this activity enabled the company to carry out its first international project in 2022, when it renovated a Dublin tramway set in its Albi workshops. A technical and logistical feat that confirms the technical expertise and quality of the work performed by its teams. In 2021, the renovation and manufacturing businesses will combine their skills to carry out the first retrofit program for diesel and hydrogen coaches. The goal: to transform an initially diesel-powered intercity vehicle into a zero-emission vehicle! Renovation at SAFRA is therefore an activity that makes perfect sense in terms of the company’s overall strategy to decarbonize transport, a perfect example of circular mobility.

Renovation of Public Transport Equipment: A commitment to the environment and waste reduction
  1. Reduced carbon footprint: One of the main benefits of retrofitting public transport vehicles is a reduced carbon footprint. The manufacture of new vehicles requires a considerable amount of natural resources and energy. Extending the life of existing vehicles reduces the demand for materials and energy needed to produce new models.
  2. Less waste: The transport sector is a major source of waste associated with the disposal of end-of-life vehicles. By opting for refurbishment, we avoid the creation of unnecessary waste such as vehicle carcasses, unused spare parts and hazardous fluids. This approach fits in perfectly with the logic of the circular economy, by extending the useful life of products.
  3. Financial savings: Renovation can be economically advantageous for public transport operators. The costs of purchasing new vehicles are higher than those of refurbishment, which generally involves replacing essential components while preserving the vehicle’s structural integrity.
  4. Adaptation to environmental standards: Updating existing vehicles to comply with new environmental standards enables operators to meet regulatory requirements without having to invest in an entirely new fleet. This helps reduce pollutant emissions and improve urban air quality.
  5. Improving passenger comfort: Renovating transport equipment allows us to improve the quality of passenger comfort, by changing seats, integrating USB ports for recharging cell phones, or simply giving a mid-life vehicle a new look. This helps to make public transport more attractive, and contributes to the transformation of the modes of transport used in favor of public transport.
Cost of a mid-life refurbishment at SAFRA
10 % of the value of new**
Cost of a mid-life refurbishment at SAFRA
12 % of the value of new**
Cost of a mid-life refurbishment at SAFRA
11 % of the value of new**

* (excluding mechanics)
** As an indication, a new VAL (light automatic metro) costs around €4 million, a bus (GNV for example) costs around €350,000 and a tramway costs around €4 million.

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