The world’s first hydrogen low-floor emission-free passenger train – Coradia iLint debuted in Salzgitter, Germany earlier this month and is currently in its third week of its passenger-free four-week trial. The train’s manufacturers, Alstom, first unveiled Coradia iLint in September 2016. On March 14 it successfully performed the first test run at 80 kilometers per hour (49 miles per hour). The dynamic tests were performed at Salzgitter plant at 80 kilometres per hour (49 miles per hour) and in Velim, Czech Republic, where the train reached a speed of 140 kilometers per hour (86 miles per hour) – the maximum speed of the Coradia iLint. An extensive test campaign will be conducted in Germany and the Czech Republic in the coming months, before the Coradia iLint performs its first passenger test runs on the German route of Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven in the beginning of 2018.

“This test run is a significant milestone in environmental protection and technical innovation. With the Coradia iLint and its fuel cell technology, Alstom is the first railway manufacturer to offer a zero-emission alternative for mass transit trains. Today our new traction system, so far successfully proved on the test ring, is used on a train for the first time – a major step towards cleaner mobility in Europe“, said Didier Pfleger, Vice President of Alstom Germany and Austria.

Coradia iLint

The inside of Coradia iLint regional train. Michael Witter for Alstom.

The train runs silently, emitting only steam and condensed water. Coradia iLint combines different innovative elements, such as clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and a smart management of the traction power and available energy. According to Alstom, Coradia iLint is suitable for operation on non-electrified networks, enabling sustainable train operation while maintaining high train performance. Designed by Alstom’s German team, the vehicle has successfully completed the static commissioning process. All electrical and pneumatic functions of the trains have been tested and verified at standstill. The global testing, certification, inspection and training provider, TÜV Süd, has certified the safety of the battery, the pressure tank system and the fuel cell for the coming test phases.

Coradia iLint.

Diagram of Coradia iLint’s structure. Alstom.

The vehicles are powered by an electrical traction drive. Electrical energy is generated on-board in a fuel cell and intermediately stored in batteries. The fuel cell provides electrical energy by combining hydrogen stored in tanks on-board with oxygen from the air. The battery stores energy from the fuel-cell composition when not needed, or from the train’s kinetic energy during electrical braking, and by that it supports and boosts energy while accelerating.

This comes one year after Germany pledged to reduce its CO2 emissions. As part of a worldwide campaign to cut greenhouse emissions, and in a push towards a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly lifestyle, Germany agreed to cut carbon emissions up to 95% by 2050. The plan, which will require German industry to reduce its CO2 emission by a fifth and Germany’s energy sector to reduce emissions by almost half by 2030, will be reviewed in 2018, to assess its impact on jobs and concerned communities.