Last week, French company Alstom unveiled its zero-emissions hydrogen powered passenger train, called the Cordia iLint. Already nicknamed the “hydrail,” the Coradia iLint was revealed at Berlin’s InnoTrans trade fair – the world’s largest rail industry trade fair.
An electric train with a hydrogen fuel tank mounted on the roof that powers a fuel cell, which then generates electricity, the emissions-free hydrail stores energy in lithium-ion batteries and promises more efficient fuel consumption. The train – which produces almost no sound – can travel 600 to 800 kilometers (372-497 miles) per tankful and can transport up to 150 seated passengers at 140 kilometers per hour (86.9 miles per hour).
The hydrail is expected begin operations in Germany’s Lower Saxony in 2018 on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line. It has been in the making for two years and is part of Germany’s movement to turn to green transportation solutions.
The Coradia iLint hydrail is to-date the first hydrogen-powered train to carry passengers rather than cargo. The hydrail is expected to be more expensive than the company’s diesel model trains, although the price has not been made public. According to the company’s press statement, transport authorities in Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia, and officials in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have all expressed interest in the trains.
Most trains today are powered by electric motors that generate electricity on-board using diesel engines, or via a connection with overhead wires. Germany currently has 4,000 diesel trains.
Last year, the world’s first hydrogen-powered tram was built in China. Built by Sifang, a subsidiary of the China South Rail Corporation, the tram was the first successful experiment with short-distance hydrogen transit.