Germany launches world’s first-ever hydrogen powered trains

The world's first hydrogen fuel cell train on its way to Bremervoerde, northern Germany, 16 September 2018. Alstom today presented the world's first hydrogen fuel cell train Coradia iLinit in Bremervoerde. The Coradia iLint, built by Alstom in Salzgitter, Germany, is equipped with fuel cells which convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, thus eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. From 17 September onwards, two such trains will enter commercial service according to a fixed timetable in Lower Saxony. EPA-EFE/DAVID HECKER

Germany launches world’s first-ever hydrogen powered trains


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Germany launched the world’s first hydrogen train on Monday, September 17.

With the departure of an Alstom-made train from Bremervörde from Lower Saxony on September 17, Germany launched the world’s first-ever hydrogen-powered passenger trains linking the regional towns of Cuxhaven and Buxtehude.

The trains will service 2 million rail passengers and 4 million bus passengers.

The new trains are quieter than diesel engines and emit only liquid water rather than CO2. The deployment of the trains has been closely watched as it could spearhead a breakthrough in the competitiveness of European train manufacturing.

The hydrogen trains are mounted with Coradia iLint engines and will replace all diesel-powered engines across Lower Saxony, which will deploy a total of 14 trains by 2021. The French government is expected to follow suit with its first order by 2022.

Alstom trains reach a maximum speed of 140km/hour, generating electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen. With a hydrogen tank situated on the roof of the trains, the engines can run for 1000km without refuelling. The fleet of rolling stock will be serviced by two service stations.

European Strategic technology

The overall cost for the new trains amounts to €81.3 million, an expensive initial investment than traditional diesel engines, but the emission-free trains are cheaper to run.

Other German states are observing the pilot deployment in Saxony and are expected to follow, helping Germany meet its greenhouse emission targets. According to Alstom, companies and local authorities in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Italy, and Canada are also considering buying in next-generation trains.

In 2017, French train manufacturer Alstom merged with Siemens to create a globally competitive European entity with over 62,000 employees and referred to as the “Airbus of the railways”.

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