Illustration of the hydrogen freight train

First H2-powered freight train developed by Alstom to transport H2O

Illustration of the hydrogen freight train Alstom

Rolling stock manufacturer Alstom will develop a hydrogen-powered freight train Nestlé Waters France. Energy company Engie will provide the hydrogen. The train running on hydrogen fuel (H2) for the first- and last mile will transport VITTEL mineral water, just one O added but a lot less flammable, from 2025. 

The hydrogen freight train will allow for green traction of locomotives on rail sections that are not electrified. This means that one locomotive can carry transportation on the whole route, also the last and first mile, which are often carried out by diesel power.

The system entails a hydrogen-generating wagon that will supply electricity to the locomotive. In the fuel cell, heat is generated by cold combustion in which hydrogen and oxygen react, and this is converted into electrical energy which is transferred to the traction battery. The hydrogen that will be used will be renewable, say the companies, which is a large factor in whether the use of it actually results in lower CO2-emissions.

The service will benefit the transport of VITTEL natural mineral water between the factory located in the Vosges and its various distribution centers in France. More specifically, Nestlé Waters mentions the routes Vittel-Arles and Vittel-Montreuil Bellay as the possible beneficiaries of the service.

Reducing transport emissions

“Ultimately, this project should enable Nestlé Waters to reduce emissions by 10.000 tons of CO2 equivalent per year”, the company pointed out. Nestlé Waters’ partnership with Alstom and ENGIE was launched last April. According to the press release of the companies, Nestlé Waters will be the first company to benefit from the hydrogen fuel cell solution for rail freight developed by developed by Alstom and ENGIE.

Nestlé Waters France joined Fret21, a French movement to make freight transport more sustainable, in 2018. On the same year, the company opened a rail freight service for its Perrier’s facility in Fos-sur-Mer, in southern France. In 2019, they implemented an EURODUAL hybrid locomotive. Moreover, in 2021, Nestle Waters France launched a rail freight service named Glass Train to return Vittel and San Pellegrino glass bottles via rail. While the effort with hydrogen aims to decarbonise transport, the question remains if the water bottles will be carbonated or decarbonised as well.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor RailTech.com

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