France launches first zero-emissions ferry

The French city of Marseille has inaugurated a 'zero-emissions ferry' - hailed as a world first, the ship's innovative filter stands to cut over 99 percent of polluting particles in maritime transport.

France launches first zero-emissions ferry
This photograph taken on September 5, 2022 shows the ferry Piana docked in Marseille harbour. (Photo by Nicolas TUCAT / AFP)

Promising to be the ferry of the future, the shipping company La Méridionale’s flagship, the Piana, will emit zero polluting particles during its journey between Marseille and Bastia, on the island of Corsica. 

“It’s an unprecedented solution, a world first,” said Marc Reverchon, the president of the company, to BFMTV.

The device essentially works by neutralising the sulphur and fine particles with sodium bicarbonate and then filtering them out. It has been installed on the four engines of the Piana are set to eliminate 99 percent of sulfur oxides (SO2), as well as 99.9 percent of fine and ultrafine particles, which are among the main air pollutants emitted by ships.

Having cost approximately €16 million, the scheme was supported by France’s Agency for Ecological Transition, as well as the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region, as part of its regional climate plan “Une COP d’Avance.”

The region had already committed €30 million in support of shore side power (electrification of the ships) in 2019 to enhance the air quality of, like port cities Nice, Toulon and Marseille.

Meanwhile, for the city of Marseille specifically, it is ready to invest in bringing the filter from the Piana to other cruise ships. After the boat’s inauguration, Marseille mayor Benoît Payan tweeted that he hopes other “big polluters” will “follow its example.”

While private jets, which are responsible for over half of global aviation emissions, are the current focus of many climate activists’ ire, cruise ships are not far behind.

Cruise ships are known to be huge polluters – a 2019 study by the NGO Transport & Environment found that cruise ships were responsible for more pollution than all of Europe’s automobiles combined, and the city of Marseille knows this intimately.

Black smoke and sulfuric smells from cruise ships and ferries have been part of daily life for Marseille residents for several years.

The city’s mayor, Benoît Payan, even launched a petition against pollution in the Mediterranean caused by the liners. It collected over 44,000 signatures. 

In response to climate concerns, the sector is trying to adapt, and a zero emissions ferry was unveiled in Marseille on Monday. Its fine-particle filtration system will be a global first.

Member comments

  1. It’s got 4 diesel engines. How can it possibly be zero emissions? Is that like saying that because my car has a catalytic converter it’s also ‘zero emission’? A zero emission ferry would use a sail or an electric motor.

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French train passengers limited to two bags

France's national rail service has announced new rules that limit the number - and size - of suitcases and bags that passengers can take on board.

French train passengers limited to two bags

The French national rail service SNCF says that from now on passengers travelling on the high-speed TGV InOui services and the Intercité lines are limited to two pieces of luggage per person.

Passengers will be able to take one large piece of luggage with dimensions of up to 70cm x 90cm x 50 cm and one smaller piece such as a bag, laptop case or rucksack of up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm.

A handbag or purse can also be carried, while items such as a baby buggy/stroller, a musical instrument or sports equipment such as skis or a snowboard do not count towards the luggage allowance.

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The new rule came into place on February 15th but there will be a grace period until September 15th when passengers will merely be reminded of the rules. After this, fines of €50 can be imposed.

Passengers on the TGV budget OuiGo lines already have limits on baggage – a standard ticket allows for one piece of luggage measuring up to 36cm x 27cm x 15cm and one piece no larger than 55cm x 35cm x 25cm. Passengers have the option to pay extra to increase their baggage allowance.

Meanwhile on the local TER services there is no baggage limit, although space for luggage storage on these trains can be limited and it is the responsibility of the passenger to ensure that all baggage is safely stowed and is not impeding other travellers.

The Eurostar has no baggage limit, other than the rule that passengers must be able to lift and carry their luggage themselves – although there are rules on what you can take with you, with bans on fireworks, knives and (depending on where you are going) certain food products.

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