The hydrogen train dream is becoming reality

Image: Coradia iLint train. Credit: Alstom.

Alstom’s hydrogen, “CO2-emission-free” trains are now in service just four years after the start of trial operations. The Coradia iLint, the world’s first passenger train to run on a hydrogen fuel cell generating electrical energy for propulsion, has begun service in Lower Saxony (Germany).

On the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, 14 Coradia iLints will be operated by Elbe-Weser railways and transport company (evb) on behalf of Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG). These will gradually replace 15 diesel trains.

It’s definitely a tour de force for transportation giant Alstom. Another notable hydrogen passenger train project is Hybari in Japan. It is developed by railway company JR East, Toyota Motor as well as Hitachi and is still in testing phase. Service could start in 2030.

Hydrogen trains can be an alternative to electrification when tunnels and bridges necessitate alterations to allow for clearance, which can be quite prohibitive (especially for less frequented local/regional lines). A significant portion of Europe’s rail network remains non-electrified (e.g. Germany has more than 4,000 active diesel train cars).

This story was first published on The PhilaVerse (my Substack newsletter).

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Phil Siarri

Phil Siarri

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Founder of Nuadox | Tech & Innovation Commentator | Digital Strategist | MTL | More about me> linktr.ee/philsiarri