The rapidly expanding and evolving market of green and social bonds – impact bonds - presents excellent opportunities to finance new projects and business that enable positive impact on the planet and people. Impact bonds are an important vehicle for companies to raise money for projects with specific environmental and social benefits. By issuing these bonds, the balance sheet of the issuer becomes more sustainable.

Optimising the railroad network

SNCF Réseau is the sole infrastructure manager of the French rail network. It maintains, upgrades and sells access to the country’s rail network to railway companies that, in addition to freight, carry a total of 5 million passengers per day, which accounts for 2% of its turnover. The company’s mission is to develop and operate a reliable, highly effective, safe and sustainable network which serves the needs of one of the world’s most environmentally friendly public transport systems. With 42% of the network consisting of small local lines It has also positioned itself as a mobility platform that serves local economies and supports the ecological and inclusive transition of rural communities.

Impact investment rationale

  • Rail transportation is a sustainable solution for intra-European mobility that creates significantly less CO2 emissions when compared to road or air.
  • The majority of the bond proceeds will be used for renovation and modernisation of France’s core rail network, and to a lesser extent to develop new railway lines. The projects avoid GHG emissions by facilitating a modal shift in transport, by creating a more energy efficient railway infrastructure after renovations, and by using re-used and recycled rails in its infrastructure. The company states on its website that through projects financed by the green bond programme in 2016, 2017 and 2019 the emission of 10.5 million tonnes of COequivalent was avoided, comparable to the carbon footprint of around 21,000 people in 40 years in France.
  • SNCF Réseau has committed to reduce energy use and GHG emissions by 25% between 2015 and 2025. It makes precise estimates of the carbon impact of its projects before investing by measuring the direct emissions and the emissions saved, for example due to improved networks or new train lines. Its Eligible Green Project Criteria and selection process has been accepted by the Climate Bond Initiative and it has submitted for certification under the Climate Bonds Standards.

SNCF Réseau contributes to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Sustainable Mobility and Infrastructure

Mobility and infrastructure cover a broad range of facilities, structures, systems and services that support the day-today operations of human society. The infrastructure sectors of transport, energy and water, telecommunication, waste and sanitation are among the most important elements of infrastructure. Sustainable infrastructure is designed, constructed and operated to optimise the environmental, social and economic impact.

We invest in companies that offer solutions for sustainable mobility and infrastructure such as urban mobility, sustainable buildings and electric vehicles.

Watch our webinar Elephant in the room and learn more about the role of fixed income in scaling impact investing.


Explore our Impact Equities and Bonds impact report ‘Making waves where it counts’ to find out more about our role as impact investor. The report presents our 2020 results in a context of numbers and stories and showcases our mission to make money work for positive change.