Hydrogen Train Revolution Halted: German State Switches to Electric

The German state of Lower Saxony has recently shifted its focus from hydrogen fuel-cell trains to battery electric trains as part of its transportation strategy. The local transport authority, known as LNVG (Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen), has announced its comprehensive plan to introduce 102 battery electric trains starting in 2029.

hydrogen train

In a significant departure from its earlier approach, LNVG has opted for battery electric trains over hydrogen fuel-cell alternatives due to the more favorable economics associated with electric train operations. This decision marks a noteworthy milestone in the state’s transportation evolution.

The shift in focus comes after LNVG had conducted trials and testing of hydrogen fuel-cell trains. Lower Saxony introduced 14 Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel-cell trains into passenger service approximately a year ago. However, based on careful assessment and evaluation, LNVG has concluded that battery electric trains offer a more cost-effective and efficient solution for future train operations.

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This strategic decision underscores Lower Saxony’s commitment to adopting sustainable and environmentally friendly modes of transportation. By embracing battery-electric trains, the state aims to contribute to reducing carbon emissions and achieving long-term sustainability goals.

As Lower Saxony paves the way for a transition to battery electric trains, it demonstrates its dedication to staying at the forefront of innovative and eco-friendly transportation solutions. This paradigm shift aligns with the global trend toward electrification in the transportation sector and showcases Lower Saxony’s progressive vision for the future of train travel.

The much-touted “world firsthydrogen train network, which initially relied on daily refueling from the Linde hydrogen filling station and boasted a remarkable 1,000-kilometer travel range for each train, saw the operation of two pre-series Alstom Coradia iLint trains on the line from September 2018.

However, after an extensive research effort, LNVG has chosen to veer away from its hydrogen-oriented plans in favor of embracing battery-electric trains. This strategic shift entails the introduction of 102 new battery-electric trains into the network starting in 2029.

LNVG’s decision stems from a meticulous analysis, revealing that the electric train models, which can be charged via overhead pantograph lines or at designated “charging islands” to eliminate the need for overhead contact wires, present a more economically attractive choice than both hydrogen and diesel alternatives.

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Anticipating a forward-looking trajectory, LNVG foresees the eventual phase-out of diesel-fueled trains from the tracks by the year 2037. Among the assortment of battery-powered options set to grace the LNVG rail network are the Alstom Coradia Stream units. With a commendable maximum speed of 200 km/h, these units boast the ability to operate on non-electrified lines through battery usage.

In an earlier development, a collaboration between Alstom and LNVG resulted in the formal agreement for 34 Coradia Stream High Capacity double-decker EMU trains, an accord signed in early 2021. These state-of-the-art trains are slated to be fully operational by the culmination of 2024, marking a progressive stride toward modern and sustainable rail transportation solutions.

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  • Suraj

    Suraj is an avid automotive enthusiast with extensive hands-on experience working on vehicles coupled with diligent industry research. He leverages his deep passion and knowledge to provide Wheelwale.com readers with practical automotive advice, latest news, in-depth reviews and perspectives on new models.

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