Is Germany giving up on hydrogen trains?

hydrogen trains

The Lower Saxony Transport Authority (LVNG) has announced plans to deploy 102 electric trains from 2029. The LVNG (Germany) believes they are less expensive than hydrogen-powered trains.

This is a potential blow for Alstom, as it was this same authority that ordered the iLint Coradia, the world’s first fuel cell train for the EVB network. No fewer than 14 trains run on the route linking Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude. “Thanks to a range of over 1,000 km, Alstom’s Coradia iLint trains can operate for a whole day on the EVB network, emission-free, thanks to a single tank of hydrogen,” stresses the French manufacturer.

Hydrogen trains not competitive enough

Yes, but here’s the thing. In a press release published on July 26, LVNG argues that it is more cost-effective to electrify lines and replace diesel trains with electric ones, rather than resorting to hydrogen. And the Lower Saxony Transport Authority intends to issue a call for tenders as early as this year. The 102 trains which will be commissioned between 2029 and 2037* will also offer more space. In addition, LNVG’s market study has shown that it is particularly cost-effective to electrify the Osnabrück – Oldenburg line completely.

A few months ago, a study commissioned by the Baden-Württemberg State Transport Authority (NVBW) came to the same conclusion. Hydrogen trains would therefore be too expensive.

A choice of energies

At this stage, Alstom has not reacted. The manufacturer is also present in other markets. In 2020, it announced an order for 6 trains, with an option for a further 8, in Italy. The Lombardy region is planning to develop a “hydrogen valley,” and the Coradia Stream is due to serve the 2026 Winter Olympics in Cortina. Most recently, Alstom’s hydrogen train was brought into service in Quebec. In France, an order for 15 trains has been signed. More than 40 hydrogen trains have been ordered in total.

In Germany, Siemens has also developed a hydrogen train.

On Alstom’s website, Brahim Soua, head of the regional train portfolio, explains that the offer is flexible. “Our hydrogen traction solution can be adapted to several different train models, but we also have other zero-emission options, such as battery traction,” he says. In fact, the French group has just won an order for 40 electric trains from the Land of Schleswig-Holstein (Northern Germany).

*At that time, only zero-emission trains will run on the network between the Ems and Elbe rivers

Do you want to learn more about hydrogen trains? Then our latest 2 articles on the subject should interest you. You can read them here and there

Article written by Laurent Meillaud and translated by Logan King 

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About the author

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Logan King

After an unusual career (3 years in the French army followed by a 3-year degree in Applied Foreign Languages), it was my passion for environmental issues that finally caught up with me and led me to join Seiya Consulting and H2 Today in June 2022. First as an end-of-study internship, then as Marketing & Communication Manager and translator at Hydrogen Today.

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