CAF turns Renfe Civia unit into bi-mode hydrogen train

Spanish train manufacturer CAF will remodel a Renfe Cercanías Civia unit into a hydrogen train demonstrator. It will be a bi-mode train, which can run on electrified sections as well as section which are not.

The installation of the bi-mode electric-hydrogen propulsion will be completed by mid-2022. A test period will then start to verify the capabilities of hydrogen applied to railway traction. The consortium is currently analysing the lines on which these tests could be carried out, taking into account their potential and their environmental benefits.

European project

It is part of the FCH2Rail (Fuel Cell Hybrid Power Pack for Rail Applications) project, promoted by the European Union, within its Horizon 2020 programme. It has a budget of 14 million euros. The consortium is made up of the Spanish companies Renfe Operadora, Adif, CAF and the National Hydrogen Center; the Portuguese IP (Infrastructures of Portugal); Germany’s DLR and STT. Lastly, Toyota Motor Europe provided the fuel cell system and integration support for the demonstrator train.

The Civia train is the most used model in Renfe’s fleet, with 248 units. It is an electric train with different versions (and different number of seats), which circulates through all the Cercanías centers of the Spanish network. When converted, the Civia unit, with electric traction, will then also be able to circulate on non-electrified sections.

Solution for non-electrified lines

A bi-mode train using the more sustainable hydrogen could be a solution to make regional lines in Europe greener. Only Switzerland is 100 percent electrified, and the rest of the countries have varying amounts of electrification. Often, diesel trains are used for these parts. The European projects aims to demonstrate that retrofitting existing electric or diesel trains is viable, so many more trains could be converted in the future.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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