March 30, 2020

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First hydrogen train is ready for series production

Where previously diesel plumes rose into the air, water vapor is now escaping from the exhaust of the world’s first hydrogen-powered train that is in regular service.

If you see Coradia iLint rushing between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, you may be disappointed. Because the blue regional train does not appear to be something special from the outside.

But it is special. “This is an important day for the future of mobility,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, President of the French railway company Alstom.

Photo Alstom
Photo: Alstom

“The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell hydrogen train goes into regular operation and is therefore ready for series production.”

Climate-friendly alternative to diesel trains

The heart of the hydrogen drive is a fuel cell. It converts ambient air and hydrogen into water. This exothermic reaction generates electricity that charges lithium-ion batteries in the vehicle floor.
This provides enough energy for the electric motor, which accelerates the train to a top speed of 140 km / h. And thanks to a so-called recuperation system, the braking energy can also be used to generate electricity for the batteries.
hydrogen-train
Photo: Alstom
The CO2 emissions are zero if the hydrogen was produced using renewable energies. Only harmless water vapor flows from the exhaust. “The emission-free drive technology of the Coradia iLint offers a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, especially on non-electrified routes,” emphasizes Bernd Althusmann, Minister of Economics and Transport in Lower Saxony.

A hydrogen filling is sufficient for 1000 km

The train is currently dependent on a mobile petrol station, which is next to the tracks in the Bremervörde station. It pumps gaseous hydrogen from a 12 m long steel container into a tank on the roof of the train.
hydrogen train
Photo: Alstom
With one filling, Coradia iLint travels 1000 km and can therefore be used all day in the Elbe-Weser network. In 2021, the Lower Saxony regional public transport company (LNVG) plans to put a permanently installed hydrogen filling station into operation in order to supply 14 further hydrogen trains that Alstom will deliver in three years.