German state-owned Deutsche Bahn rail has launched a new hydrogen-powered train designed to replace smoky, old diesel trains on commuter and regional transport routes.
Hydrogen trains have a particularly climate-friendly drive technology since they operate emission-free with green hydrogen and emit only water vapour.
After a decade of prototypes and trial runs of hydrogen trains in cities across Europe and Asia, Deutsche Bahn’s hydrogen-powered train is among Europe’s first passenger hydrogen trains to be in regular use alongside older diesel counterparts.
“For Deutsche Bahn, hydrogen trains are an important component on our way to achieving climate neutrality,” said DB’s Daniela Gerd tom Markotten.
For the pilot project, the hydrogen will be produced in the southern city of Tübingen by DB using green electricity taken directly from the overhead power line.
The two-car Mireo Plus H train has an operating range of up to 800 kilometres and is as powerful as an electric multiple-unit counterpart. Top speed is given as 160 kilometres per hour. A three-car version has a range of up to 1,000 kilometres.
Each train can save up to 45,000 tons of CO2 over its service life of 30 years compared to corresponding travel with cars.
The rail project is being funded as part of Germany’s National Innovation Program for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology with €13.74 million by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport.
“Only with a strong rail system and alternative types of drives will we be able to make a significant contribution to the fight against climate change,” said Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility which has teamed up with DB rail for the project.
The Mireo train is refuelled with hydrogen in an innovative procedure that, for the first time, takes no longer than tanking a regular diesel unit.
After completing a test phase, the train will enter passenger service between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in 2024. Approximately 120,000 kilometres of scheduled rail service are planned.