Hydrogen trains will replace diesel units in Groningen
The Dutch province of Groningen will deploy hydrogen trains on its tracks in the year 2024. The Wunderline to Germany is one of the tracks on which the train can be deployed. A feasibility study showed that a hydrogen train is a viable alternative for the current diesel train. It will be the first time in the Netherlands that a hydrogen train will be used in passenger service.
As a part of the feasibility study in March, the hydrogen train did test drives between Groningen and Leeuwarden with a hydrogen train by Alstom. The pilot project was a cooperation between the province of Groningen, Arriva, rail infrastructure manager ProRail, Alstom and Dekra. Energy provider Engie provided green hydrogen and the tank installation.
The four main goals of the pilot were the waiver for the test, the test drives, the tank process and the press and public day. During the test drives, it was examined how the train drives, what the fuel consumption is and how refuelling proceeds with a tank installation.
The test drives spanned across two weeks and took place at night with a passenger train without passengers on board. Both the commuter train services and intercity services were tested multiple times. The train performed well within the timetable, and during the test no problems occurred with accelerating and braking. Furthermore, the trial showed that refuelling with hydrogen proceeded quicker than initially thought, and could be carried out safely. The hydrogen train turned out to be almost 50 per cent more silent than the current diesel train.
The results are translated to all train lines in Groningen to find out whether the hydrogen train can succeed in driving according to the schedule. The results from the practical study were combined with a simulation model to achieve this. The simulation showed that hydrogen trains are a viable alternative for the current diesel trains.
The next steps in the project are to arrange the financial resources and the approval of the Inspection of Environment and Transport for the first hydrogen trains in the regular time schedule. According to deputy Fleur Gräper, the new trains are supposed to be deployed in 2024 when the extensions of the railway to Stadskanaal and Germany are finished.
The pilot is part of plans of the province of Groningen to make the railways in the north of the Netherlands more sustainable. Currently, most trains in the area are diesel trains. The test in march was the first time in the Netherlands a hydrogen train was driving on the tracks, but in Germany the Coradia iLint has been used in passenger service for at least two years. In Germany, dozens of new Coradia iLint trains are ordered, because of the popularity of the new train.
Alstom is going to equip the Coradia iLint trains with a larger hydrogen tank in the upcoming period. With the larger tank, the trains will be able to drive around a thousand kilometres. The first trains will be delivered in 2021. The trains that were used for the test in Groningen could drive up to 600 kilometres without refuelling.
The hydrogen train by Alstom is based on the diesel train Coradia Lint 54. The diesel installation is replaced by a hydrogen installation with a fuel cell, which is placed on the roof of the train. In the fuel cell, the hydrogen gas is converted into electricity with oxygen drawn in from the surroundings. The electricity feeds the batteries, which in turn feed the traction motor. The battery is placed under the train floor and can absorb peaks during braking and accelerating.