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Alstom’s hydrogen trains enter passenger service in Lower Saxony

A full tank provides Alstom’s hydrogen fuel cell trains with a 1,000-km range

Alstom has premiered the world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train.

The Coradia iLint, built by Alstom in Salzgitter, Germany, is equipped with fuel cells which convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, thus eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. From September 17 onwards, two such trains will enter commercial service according to a fixed timetable in Lower Saxony.

For the time being, it is travellers in Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser’s (EVB’s) Elbe-Weser network who can look forward to a world-first journey on the low-noise, zero-emission trains that reach up to 140 kmph.

On behalf of transport authorities at Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG), the Coradia iLint trains will be operated on nearly 100 km of line running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude, replacing EVB’s existing diesel fleet.

The new trains will be fuelled at a mobile hydrogen filling station. The gaseous hydrogen will be pumped into the trains from a 40-foot-high steel container next to the tracks at Bremervörde station.

With one tank, they can run throughout the network the whole day, thanks to a total autonomy of 1,000 km. A stationary filling station on EVB premises is scheduled to go into operation in 2021, when Alstom will deliver a further 14 Coradia iLint trains to LNVG.

“This is a revolution for Alstom and for the future of mobility. The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell train is entering passenger service and is ready for serial production,” emphasises chairman and CEO of Alstom Henri Poupart-Lafarge. “The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation.”

Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economy and Transport Dr. Bernd Althusmann, whose department has supported LNVG’s purchase of another 14 hydrogen trains with more than 81 million euros, is impressed: “With the test operation starting today, Lower Saxony is performing real pioneering work in local transport in cooperation with Alstom and EVB. The emission-free drive technology of the Coradia iLint provides a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, particularly on non-electrified lines,” he explains.

“In successfully proving the operability of the fuel cell technology in daily service, we will set the course for rail transport to be largely operated climate-friendly and emission-free in the future. The state government of Lower Saxony is proud of putting this trendsetting project on the track together with LNVG.”

The federal government has actively supported the development and testing of the new drive technology in Lower Saxony by providing funds from the National Innovation Programme for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.

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