Alstom paves the way for hydrogen-powered trains


The Coradia ILint hydrogen-powered train. Photo credit: Alstom. 

By Anders Lorenzen

Alstom, the French transport giant, during an event in Germany last month celebrated the launch of Coradia ILint which is the world`s first hydrogen-powered train and is constructed by Alstom. On the 17th of September, it entered into commercial service in Lower Saxony, Germany, on the Elbe-Weser network. It will replace the operator EVB’s diesel trains and will be operating on nearly 100km of line running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude.

The trains operate by converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity and thereby cutting both air pollution and climate emissions. The new trains will be fuelled at a mobile hydrogen filling station. The gaseous hydrogen is pumped into the trains from a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks at Bremervörde station.

With one tank, they can operate for a whole day throughout the network, thanks to a total capacity to fuel 1000 km. The company says that this is just the beginning as a stationary filling station on EVB premises is scheduled to go into operation in 2021 when Alstom will deliver a further 14 Coradia iLint trains to LNVG.

Chairman and CEO of Alstom, Henri Poupart-Lafarge, could not hide his excitement: “This is a revolution for Alstom and for the future of mobility. The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production. The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation.”

The Minister of Economy and Transport for Lower Saxony, Dr Bernd Althusmann, whose department supported the purchase of the further 14 hydrogen trains worth €81 million, is impressed by the capability of the trains: “With the test operation starting today, Lower Saxony is performing real pioneering work in local transport in cooperation with Alstom and EVB. The emission-free drive technology of the Coradia iLint provides a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, particularly on non-electrified lines. In successfully proving the operability of the fuel cell technology in daily service, we will set the course for future rail transport to be largely emission-free and climate-friendly.”

Many transport planners with the objective of delivering climate-friendly transport will be sure to keep a close eye on the project. The demand to cut emissions as well as the desire to electrify transport is only going to increase.

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