Passengers Embark on World’s First Hydrogen Train

14 September 2022 by Nancy Schurig
blog author

The world’s first hydrogen train, emitting only steam and condensed water, is now taking passengers on a 100 per cent hydrogen-powered train route.

Developed by Alstom, specialists in smart and sustainable mobility, the Coradia iLint made its world debut, reaching its historical milestone in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony, Germany, with just a low level of noise.

The 14 regional trains with fuel cell propulsion belong to Lower Saxony transport authority Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG), which started looking to source alternatives to diesel trains in 2012. Other project partners for the ground-breaking vehicle are the Elbe-Weser railways and transport company EVB and the gas and engineering company Linde.

The Coradia iLint boasts clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and intelligent management of motive power and available energy. Operating on non-electrified lines, the highly performing train enables clean, sustainable train operation and travels at speeds of 80km to 120km, with a maximum speed of 140km per hour, on EVB’s network.

The iLint is the 2022 German Sustainability Design Award recipient, an award in recognition of effective technical and social solutions to help drive the transformation for sustainable products, production, consumption or lifestyle in line with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda.

Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Alstom, said: “Emission-free mobility is one of the most important goals for ensuring a sustainable future and Alstom has a clear ambition to become the world leader in alternative propulsion systems for rail.

“The world’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia iLint, demonstrates our clear commitment to green mobility combined with state-of-the-art technology. We are very proud to bring this technology into series operation as part of a world premiere, together with our great partners.”

EVB will operate the 14 hydrogen-powered Alstom regional trains, on the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, on behalf of LNVG, gradually replacing 15 diesel trains.

The hydrogen trains, which have a range of 1,000km, will be fuelled daily and around the clock at the Linde hydrogen filling station, are emission-free in operation and have capacity to run all day on just one tank of hydrogen on the EVB network.

Despite numerous electrification projects in several countries, a significant part of Europe’s rail network will remain non-electrified in the long term. In many countries, the number of diesel trains in circulation is still high, with more than 4,000 cars in Germany.

Alstom currently has four contracts for hydrogen fuel cell powered regional trains. Two are in Germany, the first for 14 Coradia iLint trains in the region of Lower Saxony, and the second for 27 Coradia iLint trains in the Frankfurt metropolitan area.

The third contract comes from Italy where Alstom is building six Coradia Stream hydrogen trains in Lombardy – with the option for eight more, while the fourth is in France for 12 Coradia Polyvalent hydrogen trains shared across four different French regions. The Coradia iLint has also been successfully tested in Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden to name a few.

The teams at Alstom designed the train at their centre of excellence for regional trains in Salzgitter, Germany, and in Tarbes, France, which is the centre of excellence for traction systems.

The Coradia iLint was funded as part of the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) by the German government.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport as part of the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Innovation Programme. The federal government is contributing8.4m to the costs of the vehicles and4.3m towards filling station costs.

Nancy Schurig, Principal Consultant - Europe at Acre said: "In reducing greenhouse gas emissions Hydrogen is playing a significant role when it is produced using electricity generated from sustainable sources. Hydrogen can be used for several functions such as cooling power stations, producing heat or generating electricity etc. The environmental impact and energy efficiency of hydrogen depends on how it is produced from diverse fuels like biomass, fossil fuels and water electrolysis. 

Using Hydrogen as an alternative fuel for driving systems will have a huge impact on the environment especially in trains or trucks. The development of multiple usages for Hydrogen has accelerated over the past years and we can see a growing market here."

Nancy is a Principal Consultant within Acre's Energy & Climate Change team in Europe.

She specialises in sales, operations and business development recruitment within the sustainable energy sector including renewable energy and energy storage systems for the German market. Prior to this, she was responsible for developing the Energy & CleanTech Sector within Germany and Europe, in a German Recruitment firm for more than 4 years.

Prior to Acre, Nancy worked in a reputable consulting firm with a focus on its energy market. As a PMO, she was part of a big transformation and change process for a global European energy company. She holds a BA in business administration from Berlin school of Economics. She is fluent in German and English.