Avid interest in fuel cell trains

Nikutta
The new head of Alstom Germany, Jörg Nikutta giving one of many interviews

Fuel cell offerings for rolling stock are gaining traction these days. The number of regions debating investments in fuel cell trains is steadily growing. During a Nov. 9 press conference last year, Alstom – Europe’s only supplier of rolling stock powered by the technology – held a press conference in Wolfsburg to boost demand even further.

Of all places, Alstom, a government-owned rolling stock manufacturer from France, chose a site close to the headquarters of Europe’s largest automaker, Volkswagen, for its media event about the switchover of regional trains from diesel to fuel cells. Where only the Aller river separates the VW factory site in the German state of Lower Saxony from Wolfsburg’s main station, Alstom’s staff was joined by the state’s minister for the environment and energy, Olaf Lies, several representatives from other businesses and many reporters. Their goal: to catch a glimpse of the Coradia iLint on display.

The reason for the gathering was a purchase agreement with Lower Saxony’s regional transportation provider LNVG about 14 fuel cell trains and a 30-year maintenance and energy supply contract. Both were inked by the companies’ heads on-site. While Alstom will reportedly produce the railroad vehicles, Linde would provide the hydrogen for operating them.

Technology insights

From the inside, the train looks like any other. Even the driver’s compartment contains no unusual controls or equipment. The technology doesn’t make itself noticeable, neither to the railroad engineer nor to the passengers. Marco Brey, the designer and operator of the vehicle, said that it could be driven in the same way engineers were used to from other models.

During the event, Lies presented LNVG with a notice of award promising over EUR 81.3 million from the state’s budget. The money will be used to purchase the locomotives and rent them out to rail operators, while Alstom will conduct inspections in the maintenance facility of mass transit company evb in Bremervörde. In addition to state funds, the project is being supported with EUR 8.4 million from …

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