Germany introduced the world’s first fully hydrogen-powered passenger rail line. The first five trains came online Wednesday, with a total of 14 planned to ply a route in Lower Saxony. By the end of 2022, the more environmentally-friendly trains will replace 15 diesel trains.
Quiet and emission-free, the Coradia iLint trains leave only condensed water and steam behind them on the tracks. A single tank of hydrogen keeps them running all day for up to 621 miles.
“Emission free mobility is one of the most important goals for ensuring a sustainable future,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, train maker Alstom’s CEO, in a statement. The trains’ usual speed is 50 to 75 miles per hour, but can operate at a maximum of 87 miles per hour.
The trains already have a filling station built along the route with 64 high pressure storage tanks and six hydrogen compressors. One kilo of hydrogen fuel is roughly equivalent to four and a half kilos of diesel.
Partners in the 93-million-euro project include Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LVNG), the railway owners; train builder Alstom; train operators Elbe-Weser Railways and Transport Company; and Linde, a gas and engineering company. It’s taken a decade for the project to come to fruition. LVNG started looking for alternatives to diesel all the way back in 2012. Alstom has been refining the Coradia iLint train, which the company first debuted in 2016 at a Berlin transportation trade show. Two years later, its first iLint went into commercial service in Germany.
Lower Saxony is feeling good about itself right now. Stephan Weil, president of Lower Saxony, called the new hydrogen trains a “model for the rest of the world [and] a milestone on the road to climate neutrality in the transport sector.”
Next stop, Frankfurt. Soon 27 new hydrogen-powered trains will serve the Frankfurt metropolitan area. Italy and France are also hopping aboard the trend, with six and 12 hydrogen trains commissioned so far respectively.
Lead image via Alstom