French rail manufacturer Alstom says it is ready to supply the world’s first zero emissions trains for those places that haven’t electrified train service, and recently announced its Coradia iLint hydrogen train made a demonstration run from Wiesbaden to Frankfurt Höchst in Germany with 150 people aboard.
The announcement comes as a local transportation agency in Germany’s Rhine-Main area has asked for bids for a 25-year contract to supply the trains, which it aims to start running in 2022.
Alstom’s train emits no carbon. It’s powered by a fuel cell on top of the train that combines hydrogen and oxygen, producing electricity, which powers the train, and water, which is blown off as steam. Extra power can be stored in on-board lithium-ion batteries.
“We think it’s really a breakthrough in the technology,” Alstom regional vice-president of products and innovation Wolfram Schwab said at an event showing off the trains late last year, according to Railway Technology. “Now we are just at the starting point of the migration phase to zero-emission trains.”
The trains are expected to be able to travel at about 85 mph and carry 300 passengers. They should be able to travel just about 500 miles on a tank of hydrogen fuel.
The company has been testing the engines since early 2017, but is still working on the logistics of providing the hydrogen.
Alstom also already has a deal to build 14 of the trains for the Lower Saxony local transport authority in German. The trains will be produced there, at a facility in Salzgitter, in Lower Saxony, in central Germany.
Alstom is on a bit of a win streak – it recently announced that it will lead a consortium that will provide an autonomous light rail system for the city of Montreal, Quebec, in Canada. That project is expected to create one of the world’s largest driverless train systems. Among Alstom’s other customers are the Paris Metro, and the Singapore Land Transport Authority.
While the Europeans are working on hydrogen cell-fueled trains, companies in India have perfected the same technology for powering buses. Tata Motors and Indian Oil, with backing from India’s government, have tested hydrogen-powered buses there and are expected to be testing them on passenger runs within the year.