The success story of fuel cell trains to date is currently undergoing a severe setback: As the Kieler Nachrichten (news) recently reported, electric trains could roll through Schleswig-Holstein from 2022, but they are likely to be equipped with accumulators for energy storage and not with hydrogen.
However, this has not yet been decided, as the drive unit manufacturer Alstom is currently still taking legal action against the tender procedure.
The French company Alstom had recently caused a great stir in both the rail and energy worlds by putting a fully functional fuel cell train into operation in a comparatively short time. The Coradia iLint, which was developed with the support of various technology partners and built in Salzgitter (see H2-international issue Jan. 2018), was successfully sent on a tour across Germany in early 2019.
Previously, a tender had been held in Schleswig-Holstein until the end of 2018, because the northern federal state intends to buy 50 new trains, which are to go into operation from December 2022, for 200 million euros. This open-technology tender procedure was expressly concerned with low-emission drive technologies that can be used as an alternative to diesel or overhead line locomotives.
The background to this is that in Schleswig-Holstein only around 30 percent of the rail network is electrified. However, both the permanent operation of diesel locomotives and the installation of overhead lines are cost-intensive. According to a Norwegian study from 2016, the construction of overhead contact lines is three to four times as expensive as the use of fuel cell trains, which is why the focus is currently on battery, diesel hybrid and FC drives.
At the beginning of this year, however, the Land and Nahverkehrsverbund Schleswig-Holstein GmbH (NAH.SA) announced that only the previous supplier, DB Regio Schleswig-Holstein, had submitted an offer for purely battery electric trains. Alstom therefore did not submit a final binding bid, but instead filed a complaint with the Higher Administrative Court for discrimination against the specifications of the tender procedure. The accusation is that the price of hydrogen fuel was to be guaranteed for thirty years and that the H2 infrastructure itself was to be set up without these additional services being adequately taken into account.
read more in H2-international July 2019