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The world’s first 100% hydrogen-powered train is now running in Germany

Alstom, the world leader in smart and sustainable mobility, announced on Wednesday the launch of the world’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia iLint, marking a new historic milestone. The train began running on the world’s first 100% hydrogen rail route in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony, Germany, for passenger service.

This regional train emits only steam and condensed water while operating with a low noise level. Altom has developed 14 fuel cell powered vehicles for Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG).

LNVG had started looking for alternatives to diesel trains in 2012, giving the impetus to train development in Germany.

The other project partners for this world premiere are the railway and transport company Elbe-Weser (evb) and the gas and engineering company Linde.

“Emission-free mobility is one of the most important goals to ensure 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 cutting-edge technology. We are very proud to put this technology into series service as a world first, with our major partners,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Alstom.

On the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, 14 Alstom regional hydrogen trains will be operated by evb on behalf of LNVG, gradually replacing 15 diesel trains. They will be refueled daily and around the clock at Linde’s hydrogen filling station. Thanks to a range of 1,000 kilometres, Alstom multiple units of the Coradia iLint model, which operate without emissions, can operate all day with a single tank of hydrogen on the evb network. In September 2018, there was a successful nearly two-year trial with two pre-series trains.

“Emission-free mobility is one of the most important goals to ensure 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,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Alstom.

“Despite numerous electrification projects in several countries, a significant part of the European rail network will remain un-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, for example,” he pointed out.

Alstom currently has four contracts for regional trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Two are in Germany, the first for 14 Coradia iLint trains in the Lower Saxony region, and the second for 27 Coradia iLint trains in the Frankfurt metropolitan area. The third contract comes from Italy where Alstom is building 6 Coradia Stream hydrogen trains in the Lombardy region – with an option for 8 more, while the fourth is in France for 12 Coradia Polyvalent hydrogen trains shared across four different French regions. Additionally, the Coradia iLint has been successfully tested in Austria, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden to name a few.

The Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train to run on a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electric power for propulsion. This completely emission-free train is silent and only emits water vapor and condensation. The Coradia iLint features several innovations: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries and intelligent management of motive power and available energy. Specifically developed for use on non-electrified lines, it enables clean and sustainable train operation while maintaining high performance. On the evb network, the train runs at speeds of 80 to 120, with a maximum speed of 140 kilometers per hour.

The iLint was designed by Alstom teams in Salzgitter (Germany), its center of excellence for regional trains, and in Tarbes (France), center of excellence for traction systems. The project is supported by the German government and the development of the Coradia iLint was funded under the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP) by the German government.

The Coradia iLint is the recipient of the German Sustainable Design Award 2022. The award recognizes technical and social solutions that are particularly effective in driving the transformation towards sustainable products, production, consumption or lifestyle in line with the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations.

Linde’s facility in Bremervörde contains sixty-four 500 bar high-pressure storage tanks with a total capacity of 1,800 kg, six hydrogen compressors and two fuel pumps. The use of hydrogen as a fuel for trains significantly reduces the burden on the environment, since one kg of hydrogen replaces around 4.5 liters of diesel fuel. Further on-site hydrogen production using electrolysis and regeneratively generated electricity is planned; corresponding extension areas are available.

The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport as part of the national hydrogen and fuel cell technological innovation program. The Confederation contributes 8.4 million euros to the costs of the vehicles and 4.3 million euros to the costs of the service station. The funding guideline is coordinated by NOW GmbH and implemented by Project Management Julich (PtJ).