Germany launches zero-emission train service

The first hydrogen-powered trains operate at speeds of up to 140 kilometres an hour

Germany has made another step towards a greener future. In its northern state of Lower Saxony, the country has launched world’s first hydrogen-powered train service.

Germany has launched zero-emission hydrogen-powered train service ― René Frampe /Alstom
Germany has launched zero-emission hydrogen-powered train service ― René Frampe / Alstom

The new train, called Coradia iLint, was developed by a French company called Alstom while the German government provided its financial support as part of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology. Its main advantage is in replacing older diesel-powered trains on rails with no electrification. This should lead to a significant reduction in emissions.

The trains can reach the speed up to 140 km/h and travel nearly 1,000 kilometres without refuelling.

“The Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with the exhaust being only steam and condensed water,” Alstom said.

“The iLint is special for its combination of different innovative elements: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and smart management of traction power and available energy. Specifically designed for operation on non-electrified lines, it enables clean, sustainable train operation while ensuring high levels of performance.”

The service started on two regional routes on 16 September. Alstom has revealed its plans to build 14 more of the hydrogen-powered trains for Lower Saxony. The cost of the project could climb to $94.6 million. Despite being more expensive than diesel-powered trains, the cost of hydrogen-powered trains could be balanced by savings in their operation. This is mainly because hydrogen fuel is easy to produce.

“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,” said Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chairman and CEO of Alstom, during the launch.

“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.”