Germany Launches First Fully Hydrogen-Powered Trains

Germany Launches First Fully Hydrogen-Powered Trains

Germany has launched the first ever rail line to be entirely run on hydrogen-powered trains, starting on August 24.

The route in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony, will be solely served by fourteen hydrogen trains powered by fuel cell technology. 

The 93 million euro ($92.3 million) agreement was reached between the railway’s owners, Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LVNG), and Alstom, the manufacturer of the Coradia iLint trains. The project also includes the Elbe-Weser Railways and Transport Business (EVB), which will operate the trains, and the gas and engineering company Linde.

The trains will gradually replace the route’s 15 diesel trains. One kilogram of hydrogen fuel may replace approximately 4.5 kilograms of diesel.

The trains emit no pollution and produce little noise, releasing just steam and condensed water. They have a 1,000-kilometer (621-mile) range, meaning they may operate on the network for an entire day on a single hydrogen tank. On the route, a hydrogen filling station has already been installed. The trains may reach speeds of up to 140 kph (87 mph), while average speeds on the route are substantially lower, ranging from 80 to 120 kph.

“Emission-free mobility is one of the most important goals for ensuring a sustainable future,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, Alstom’s CEO, in a statement.

The acquisition has taken a decade to complete. According to a news statement, LVNG has been seeking for diesel alternatives since 2012, and Alstom conducted a two-year trial of the trains in 2018. Germany now has approximately 4,000 diesel trains operating on non-electrified tracks. Austria, Poland, Sweden, and the Netherlands have also tested the Coradia iLint.

Linde operates the fuelling station, which contains 64 high-pressure storage tanks, six hydrogen compressors, and two fuel pumps.

President of Lower Saxony, Stephan Weil, said this launching is a “model for the rest of the world” and “a milestone on the road to climate neutrality in the transport sector.”

The next stop for the trains will be Frankfurt, where 27 have been ordered for the city. They will also stop in France, where 12 trains will be distributed among four districts, and Italy, where six trains have been ordered for usage in the northern Lombardy area.