The first hydrogen passenger train will debut in March 2022 on a German regional line, setting a new standard for zero-carbon travel in Europe.
Developed by French multinational Alstom SA and following a long trial period on a 123-km track in Lower Saxony, Alstom’s 14 Coradia iLint passenger trains will take over the regional line between Buxtehude and Cuxhaven, reaching a maximum speed of 140km/h and carrying 150 people.
Fuel cell trains are a promising alternative to the current carbon-emitting diesel engines. Alstom is the world’s second-largest train equipment supplier, and has been promoting hydrogen technology for the past 5 years.
As EU’s climate goals become more ambitious, Alstom has already won contracts in Germany, Italy, and France, and maybe soon Austria too—France already ordered a dual hydrogen-electric train for its national railroad.
Currently, 54% of the EU’s railways are electrified, however hydrogen provides a better alternative for long-distance travel. It is estimated that by 2050 the sector could be worth between $25 billion and $48 billion, in Europe alone. Alstom expects that more than 5,000 diesel trains will be replaced by as soon as 2035.
“We will no longer buy any diesel units,” said LNVG’s director. The railway operates 126 trains running on the fuel and is looking for alternatives.