The new Coradia iLint train, Source: German Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport on Facebook

Germany’s largest hydrogen train fleet is rolling out in Frankfurt

Germany’s largest hydrogen train fleet is rolling out in Frankfurt

The fleet will service commuter towns on the Tanaus network

Yesterday, the first hydrogen train of Germany’s largest hydrogen rail fleet rolled out in Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bahn workshop in Griesheim. The Coradia iLint, as the train is called, is produced by Alstom and is the first passenger train in the world to operate with a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electrical energy for the drive.

The fleet will consist of 27 locally emissions-free trains, that will serve commuter towns around the city, initially on the RB15 route linking Frankfurt with Brandoberndorf. The hydrogen expansion will cover the Tanaus network, gradually expanding through more expected train deliveries in the spring.

According to an official statement, the planned routes will cover Frankfurt-Höchst – Bad Soden, Frankfurt – Koenigstein and Bad Homburg – Friedberg, all in the German state of Hesse.

Notably, the trains made their debut in August, when 14 hydrogen trains started servicing the Bremervörde line, linking small towns between Bremen and Hamburg, in the north.

Green rail comes at a price

The Coradia iLint trains will run on hydrogen and will use hydrogen fuel cells, that will convert the fuel into electricity. Additionally, they will also feature a battery which will recover excess energy and energy recovered from breaking. All in all, this design will result in a much quieter train compared to its diesel counterparts and will emit only water and a bit of heat into the environment.

However, the whole project will come with a hefty price tag of 500 million euros, spread out over 25 years. This includes purchasing the vehicles, maintenance and operation, which will be handled by the producer – Alstom.

Also, running the trains requires the addition of hydrogen production plants and the electrification of the planned green lines. Currently, the Höchst Industrial Park makes hydrogen as a by-product of industry yet authorities need to expand capacity to meet the growing demand.

Moreover, according to an official statement, hydrogen vehicles cost around 40% more than their diesel counterparts, a difference of 14.7 million euros. This was covered by funds from the German Federal Government.

At the same time, Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport was quoted in a press release, explaining that Germany needs to find ways to reduce traffic emissions. He continued: “Hydrogen is part of the solution, especially for heavy-duty commercial vehicles, ships and even in rail operations, because thanks to H2 technology, we can also be climate-neutral and quiet on those parts of the network in the future where electrification would be too costly, a real game changer.”



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