Image: Russian Railways/RZD

Russian Railways signs deal for hydrogen locomotives

Russian Railways (RZD), Rusnano and Sinara Group have signed a cooperation agreement for the development of mainline hydrogen locomotives. A power plant based on electrochemical hydrogen fuel cells together with lithium-ion batteries will be used for this purpose. From 2025, the Russian Railways will only purchase electric locomotives or locomotives running on alternative green energy.

Russian Railways is the potential customer of the locomotives, while Sinara Transport Machines Holding of Sinara Group will be the general contractor. Rusnano will be represented by subsidiaries and partners and act as a co-contractor in terms of hydrogen fuel cells, energy storage systems based on lithium-ion storage batteries and other innovative technological solutions.

The new cooperation agreement for hydrogen locomotives was signed at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg by the three company heads. Just last month, Russian Railways signed a roadmap with French operator SNCF on the use of hydrogen for both freight and passenger rolling stock. Russia aims to become a world leader in hydrogen production and export.

From research to testing

The agreement provides for a whole range of research and development (R&D), the analysis of the necessary infrastructure and the development of the technical requirements for the locomotives, as well as the implementation of a number of activities necessary for the development, production and testing of the locomotives.

The three parties are also interested in the development of mutually beneficial cooperation in the creation of shunting locomotives using a hybrid power plant based on hydrogen fuel cells and domestically produced energy storage units.

Reducing freight emissions

“Russian Railways ranks first in the world in terms of energy efficiency in freight transport, according to the International Energy Agency, said Oleg Belozerov, Chairman of the Management Board of Russian Railways. “The bulk of all work is done on clean energy sources. Russian Railways accounts for less than 1 percent of Russia’s total volume of greenhouse emissions. From 2025, we plan to purchase only electric locomotives, as well as locomotives operating on alternative energy sources such as natural gas and hydrogen. This will enable us to further reduce the environmental burden on the environment.”

“We see how the environment is setting a new trend for the further development of the entire railway engineering industry. Hydrogen transport in the rail sector can solve the problems of reducing emissions, noise and vibration. According to our estimates, prototypes of mainline and shunting locomotives can be created in 2023-2024”, said Dmitry Pumpyansky, President of Sinara Group.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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