Alstom’s hydrogen trains enter passenger service in Germany
Alstom’s hydrogen train Coradia iLint rolled into the station for the first time in Bremervörde, Germany, this Sunday. Starting on Monday, two iLints will enter commercial service according to a fixed timetable in Lower Saxony.
The hydrogen trains will transport travellers in railway company Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser (EVB) network, operating on nearly 100 kilometres of lines running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, replacing EVB’s existing diesel fleet. EVB serves around 2 million rail passengers and 4 million bus passengers per year in the Elbe-Weser triangle.
The Coradia iLint is equipped with fuel cells which convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. The trains are an environmentally-friendly alternative to diesel trains. The trains, built by Alstom in Salzgitter, Germany, can reach speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour.
“Hydrogen is a real, low-emission and efficient alternative to diesel,” Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure Enak Ferlemann said. “These trains can be operated cleanly and in an environmentally friendly way, especially on secondary lines where overhead lines are uneconomical or not available yet. We therefore support and fund this technology, in order to expand it.”
The new trains will be fuelled at a mobile hydrogen filling station. The gaseous hydrogen will be pumped into the trains from a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks at Bremervörde station. With one tank, they can run throughout the network the whole day, reaching a total autonomy of 1000 kilometres. A stationary filling station on EVB premises is scheduled to go into operation in 2021, when Alstom will deliver a further 14 Coradia iLint trains to Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG).
“The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production,” CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge of Alstom said. “The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation.”
“We do this because about 120 diesel trainsets in our vehicle pool will reach the end of their lifetime within the next 30 years, meaning we will have to replace them,” transport authority Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen chief Carmen Schwabl said. “The experience gained with this project helps us find a sustainable and practical solution.”
Alstom, the Minister of Economy and Transport of Lower Saxony, the Federal Ministry of Transport and the transport authorities of Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG) and Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser (EVB) were present for the occasion.
The federal government has supported the development and testing of the new drive technology in Lower Saxony by providing funds from the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.