Germany launches hydrogen passenger train service

Officials have announced the launch of the new fleet, which they call a world first.

German authorities announced the launch of the world’s first fleet of hydrogen passenger trains this week.

The vehicles will replace the 15 diesel-powered trains that previously served these lines.

The hydrogen passenger train fleet will replace the diesel-powered locomotives that currently run along non-electrified tracks in Lower Saxony. There are now 14 H2 powered locomotives using fuel cells to generate electricity to power their engines to replace the existing 15 diesel locomotives.

The German government has supported the expansion of H2 use as an important part of its decarbonization strategy and to reap other benefits from replacing fossil fuels. State Governor Stephan Weil said the €93 million project was a “great example” for decarbonizing Lower Saxony.

The locomotives were manufactured by Alstom, a French company. Additionally, they will be operated by LNVG, a regional railway company in Germany. They will serve Buxtehude, Bremervoerde, Bremerhaven and Cuxhaven.

The Coradia iLint hydrogen passenger train has a range of 621 miles.

According to Alstom, the Coradia iLint locomotives making up the new fleet will travel a range of up to 621 miles (1,000 kilometres) per full refueling. Moreover, they can also reach a maximum speed of 87 miles per hour (140 kilometers per hour).

Since the use of H2 produced by electrolysis powered by renewable electricity means that neither the production of the fuel nor its use leads to greenhouse gas emissions, the locomotives will avoid the use more than 422,000 gallons (1.6 million liters) of diesel each year.

At the start of the hydrogen-powered passenger train fleet, the H2 that will be used is produced as a by-product of chemical processes. That said, the intention is to move away from this form of H2 production – which leads to greenhouse gas emissions – in favor of green H2 production from renewable energy. German gas company Linde has announced plans to produce locally generated renewable energy to generate electricity over the next three years.

Jose P. Rogers