The first hydrogen trains to enter commercial service have rolled out of the station. One may arrive at a stage near you in the coming years.
Two weeks ago, a local train line near Hamburg, Germany made history when it launched a hydrogen-only service.
This is an incredible achievement and will soon be joined by similar services around the world.
In the UK, several projects are underway. Scotland’s first hydrogen-fuelled train began a test run on a five-mile track near Linlithgow just last week, while in November 2021, a passenger train developed by partners including Porterbrook, University of Birmingham, called the Hydroflex, will be demonstrated. COP26 in Glasgow.
During the Climate Change Conference, Eversholt Rail signed a contract with Alstom to design, build, deploy and support a fleet of 10 three-car hydrogen trains in Britain.
Hydrogen trains are needed as railways try to end the use of diesel rolling stock on lines that cannot be electrified.
In the UK, only 42% of track is electrified and diesel trains make up around 30% of the nation’s fleet. With the government setting a 2040 deadline for phasing out diesel trains, time is running out to find replacements.
In most parts of the world, diesel accounts for a higher percentage of rail fleets than in the UK, increasing the need for a cleaner alternative.
In North America, Canadian Pacific’s hydrogen locomotive program, which began in December 2020, has expanded to three locomotives this year as it looks to refine the process of converting diesel-electric powertrains to hydrogen electric.
In May, Calgary-based ATCO Group said it would provide engineering, procurement and construction services for two hydrogen production and refuelling facilities to Canadian Pacific. Each site consists of a 1 MW electrolyser as well as distribution for compression, storage and locomotive refuelling.
Canadian company Ballard Power Systems said this week it will supply hydrogen infrastructure in the form of eight 100kW fuel cells for Indian rail integrator Medha Servo Drives, contracted by Indian Railways to develop the country’s first hydrogen-powered trains.
Hydrogen trains are being explored by British mining giant Anglo American, which is working with Australian rail company Arizona to replace diesel trains in Queensland’s North West Minerals Province.
Romania is also investing in hydrogen transport. In July, the government authorised the purchase of 12 hydrogen trains with 160 seats on non-electrified lines between Bucharest Central Station and Bucharest Airport and on lines from Bucharest City and Ilfov County north to the neighbouring counties of Arges. Dâmbovița and Giurgiu.
Replacing diesel traction with hydrogen fuel cells in Romania will reduce emissions by 18,348 tons of CO2 and 306 tons of NOx per year, worth more than €600,000 per year.
Rail is considered one of the cleanest forms of transportation in the world. It emits around 40 grams of CO2 per passenger km in Europe, compared to around 110 grams per km for cars. With the support of hydrogen, it can become even more cleaner.