Instead of the end of 2020, the handover of the funding decisions took place on May 3, 2021. Both the Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer, and the Brandenburg Minister of Economics, Prof. Jörg Steinbach, as well as the Minister of Infrastructure, Guido Beermann, appeared at the small railway station in Basdorf to hand over the letters of approval for 25 million euros live on site.
This “hurdle-laden project”, as Steinbach put it, is about the development of a regional hydrogen infrastructure in the north of Berlin (see H2-international issue May 2021, Jul. 2019 and Jan. 2018) as well as the reactivation of the main line of the Heidekrautbahn. Three sub-projects are now being funded for the realisation, which has been in progress since 2017: The project developer Enertrag is to receive 13 million euros for the construction of a hydrogen plant, the Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn-Aktiengesellschaft (NEB) will receive 9 million euros in funding to be able to use fuel cell trains on the regional railway line RB27 when the timetable changes on 15 December 2024, and the Kreiswerke Barnim will receive 2.5 million euros for the construction of an H2 train filling station. A total of about 100 million euros is to be invested in this joint project.
Minister of Transport Scheuer explained: “It’s not just the vehicles that are to be moved with hydrogen, but also all the surrounding equipment”. According to the current planning, this includes not only a total of six H2 railcars, but also four hydrogen-powered waste collection vehicles, as Christian Mehnert, managing director of Kreiswerke Barnim, confirmed. According to NEB Executive Board Detlef Bröcker, one hundred per cent of the hydrogen required is to be produced in the Oberhavel district with the help of renewable energies from wind and sun.