Electromobility is the future? Anyone who says so should not be too sure. Since this technology also has some downsides, experts are increasingly calling for hydrogen to be the environmentally friendly fuel of the future. A pilot project in Lower Saxony is now looking at how well it performs in practice. There, environmentally harmful diesel trains are being replaced by the ecological alternatives without further ado.
A total of 14 hydrogen-powered trains
In Lower Saxony, a huge step is being taken in the right direction. As early as June 2022, old diesel trains are to be replaced with a total of 14 modern hydrogen trains. These will then not only perform any special runs, but will run in regular service. After numerous tests, the manufacturer Alstom feels confident enough to guarantee not only environmentally friendly but also reliable train service. The train manufacturer confirmed this to dpa. To ensure that there are no undesirable incidents, the responsible conductors, train drivers as well as technical staff can already get a taste of the new technology. Alstom has provided a model especially for this purpose.
A world premiere
This means that Germany, and Lower Saxony in particular, is taking on a real pioneering role. According to Alstom, the hydrogen trains will in fact be a genuine world premiere. Nowhere else on the globe do hydrogen-powered trains transport passengers in regular service. What sounds like a daring experiment has been planned by Alstom in painstaking detail over a long period of time. For example, it had already carried out extensive test runs in 2018, 2019 and 2020, during which passengers were also on board the hydrogen trains. In 2021, moreover, a single hydrogen train from Alstom was already running in regular service. Consequently, the offer is now more or less set in stone and, on top of that, extended to an entire fleet.
Lower Saxony is just the beginning
Manufacturer Alstom seems to have a lot in store for its sophisticated hydrogen trains. After the fleet has successfully started in Lower Saxony, other German states are to follow. The manufacturer says that the first models will be launched in Hesse at the end of 2022 and will be used directly in passenger service. However, the fleet there is to be significantly larger, with a total of 27 hydrogen trains. The right conditions have already been met in Hesse’s capital. A hydrogen filling station has been built in Frankfurt am Main specifically for this purpose. But the manufacturer has obviously already made a name for itself beyond Germany’s borders. According to Alstom, there have already been inquiries from Italy and France.
This is how energy transition works
Fortunately, the move away from combustion engines to drives based on renewable energies is not only taking place in the automotive industry. In the field of local public transport, too, many experts have now tackled the problem and developed solutions. In particular, trains with electric motors or hydrogen drives are becoming increasingly popular. These alternatives are particularly exciting because they not only protect the environment. Since overhead lines can even be dispensed with on short routes, at least in the case of trains with electric motors, they are also less complicated to install. We are curious to see whether Alstom’s hydrogen trains can also convince in practice with busy passenger operations and in turn make a contribution to the energy transition.