The national Company of the French railroads (the SNCF) is one of the principal French public companies. It carries on a double activity:
Railway company in charge of the commercial exploitation of services of rail-bound transport travellers and goods, on the one hand;
Exploitation and maintenance, for the account of RFF, of the national French railway network on the other hand.
Employing nearly 175.000 people, it exploits approximately 32.000 km of lines, including 1.850 km of lines at high speed (June 2007) and 14.800 km of electrified lines. It makes circulate on average 14.000 trains per day.
SNCF is a French railway operator. It is subdivided in several divisions. The unit of the Material Division implied in the project is the Agency of Railway tests (AEF).
AEF (Agence d'Essai Ferroviaire) is a laboratory that brings together the infrastructures, the technical resources and the scientific and organisational competencies necessary for the design, preparation, performance and exploitation of the tests and expert assessments of rolling stock and its interaction with the railway environment. AEF holds ISO 9001 and 2000 certification as well as accreditations from COFRAC, covering 45 "families" of tests.