SNCF Réseau, the FIF, RATP and SERCE create Rail Open Lab, a partnership dedicated to the French railway industry’s digital and technological acceleration

On the occasion of the Viva Technology trade show, SNCF Réseau, the French Railway Industries Association (FIF), RATP and SERCE sign a partnership to create Rail Open Lab. The laboratory is dedicated to open innovation as well as digital and technological acceleration in rail network maintenance and operation. The partners aim to transform the French railway industry into a sector of excellence, operating state-of-the-art technology on robust and environmentally-friendly networks.

An ecosystem of key players working towards the rail network of the future

Rail Open Lab allows for partnerships between major groups, SMEs and start-ups to meet the needs of France’s two main rail networks. The idea is simple. Each month, the thirty partners share their needs and the corresponding technological solutions after conducting four-month trials under real operating conditions. 
Rail Open Lab combines new technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence to develop economically-viable and connected solutions, which will then be deployed on a large scale on the different networks.
Rail Open Lab was first created by SNCF Réseau and the FIF in 2018. The partnership successfully covered 16 topics, leading to new momentum in 2021 with the addition of two new partners, RATP and SERCE. Their participation will allow Rail Open Lab to cover new topics such as the circular economy and sustainable development.

Rail open lab


4 topics, 4 months of acceleration

The use cases suggested by the project partners will be tested directly on the railways under real operating conditions for four months. At the end of the four-month period, if the trial proves successful, the solution may be industrialized and deployed to our partners and third parties.
The goal of Rail Open Lab is to accelerate digital solutions based on 4 key topics for tomorrow’s rail network:

  • Predictive maintenance,
  • Connected employees,
  • Connectivity,
  • The circular economy and sustainable development.

In concrete terms:

One of Rail Open Lab’s first use cases is meant to find a monitoring solution for smoke-removal fans by developing predictive maintenance technologies. The 343 fans on the RATP network are crucial for the safety of everyone. Rail Open Lab provides an opportunity to identify and trial a solution over four months to access fan health assessments in real time, improve tunnel connectivity and anticipate potential failures.

After benefiting from an initial wave of 16 trials, including, for example, the designing of connected anti-flooding devices, SNCF Réseau plans to conduct approximatively ten new use cases this year.

Rail Open Lab: key figures

  • 2 infrastructure managers: SNCF Réseau & RATP; 
  • 2 professional trade unions (FIF, SERCE), bringing together approximately 30 players;
  • 4 topics covered;
  • 4 months of acceleration per use case;    200 sensors tested until now.