Hydrogen Fuel Cell Trains to Start in Frankfurt in 2022

| France: Saint-Ouen and Germany: Höchst | Source: Alstom and Industriepark Höchst

Coradia_ilint_r._frampe-alstom_toyota_salzgitterRMV, the public transport network of the Frankfurt metropolitan area in Germany, through its subsidiary fahma (Vehicle Management Region Frankfurt RheinMain GmbH) recently issued a tender throughout Europe for 27 fuel cell trains. The tender has been awarded to French engineering company Alstom, manufacturer of hydrogen-fuelled trains.

Alstom will deliver the vehicles of type Coradia iLint by the timetable change in 2022. The new trains will provide 160 seats so that the capacity of the lines in the Taunus subnetwork will be increased by up to 40 percent, especially for commuter trains in rush-hour traffic.

“The purchase of 27 vehicles is a lighthouse project for fuel cell mobility, about which I’m very pleased,” says Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary State Secretary of the German Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure. “The federal government supports this investment in climate-friendly mobility by assuming 40 percent of the additional vehicle costs incurred in comparison to diesel vehicles, as well as by providing proportional support for the hydrogen filling station. The project can serve as a model for the German transport ministry.”

Hydrogen refuelling station

In addition to the trains, the order also includes the supply of hydrogen, maintenance and the provision of reserve capacities for the next 25 years. Alstom offers the supply of hydrogen in cooperation with Infraserv GmbH & Co. Höchst KG, with the filling station being located on the premises of the Höchst industrial park.

Joachim Kreysing, Managing Director of Infraserv Höchst, says the park will play a pivotal role in the evolution of this cutting-edge technology: “With its current hydrogen infrastructure, Industriepark Höchst is the perfect place to build a filling station for fuel cell-powered vehicles. A hydrogen filling station for trains, built alongside our current refueling infrastructure for buses and trucks, fits in seamlessly with our strategy of developing ever-more innovative energy delivery solutions based on clean sources of power.”

World’s largest fleet of fuel cell trains

“On Hesse’s tracks you can still find many diesel vehicles today as overhead lines are missing. Fuel cell traction is therefore a quickly feasible alternative to expensive electrification,” says Tarek Al-Wazir, Hesse’s Minister of Transport. “In Hessen, transport is responsible for one third of greenhouse gas emissions. Steam instead of diesel soot is therefore an exciting approach. We will continue to actively support the project and make every effort to ensure that the necessary adaptations to the rail infrastructure around the hydrogen filling station in Höchst make rapid progress.”

“This award sets two records: With the commissioning of the new vehicles in 2022, RMV will have the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell trains in passenger transport and it is the largest order in the history of our subsidiary fahma,” says RMV Managing Director Prof. Knut Ringat. “After electrically powered trains, electric buses and hydrogen buses, we are now offering our passengers a further opportunity to travel without emissions. This milestone makes me proud and is a giant step towards a mobility without pollutants”.

The new fuel cell trains will replace the existing diesel-powered trains on the following lines: RB11 (Frankfurt-Höchst – Bad Soden), RB12 (Frankfurt – Königstein), RB15 (Frankfurt – Bad Homburg – Brandoberndorf) and RB16 (Friedrichsdorf – Friedberg).  The total order value amounts to around 500 million euros.

First passenger train powered by hydrogen

Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. The trains are as silent as a suburban train and are locally emission-free as they only emit steam and liquid water into the environment.

In addition, this type of vehicle is characterized by several innovations: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries as well as intelligent management of traction power and available energy, combined with appropriate driver assistance systems. Specially developed for the use on non-electrified lines, the Coradia iLint allows clean, sustainable train operation while maintaining high performance and economic use for its customers.

Hydrogen trains already in service

The world’s first two hydrogen trains have already been in regular passenger service in the Elbe-Weser network in Lower Saxony since September 2018. The Local Transport Authority of Lower Saxony (Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen, LNVG) will operate 14 Coradia iLint trains on that line from 2021. RMV is therefore the second operator to embrace environmentally-friendly hydrogen technology without exhaust gases, using the vehicles provided by fahma.

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