The zero-emission future of the transportation sector has prompted an increasing number of energy policy debates on railroad electrification. At Hannover Messe, it was Alstom’s new fuel cell train that garnered much attention. After having been developed in less than two years, it had its first run in mid-March and will reportedly be used to transport passengers starting in 2018.
Trains running on hydrogen could be used in the future as an alternative to diesel-driven railcars on non-electrified parts of the railroad system. Although railroad cars with fuel cell-battery engines still cost up to a million euros more than today’s diesel models, the efficiency gains of fuel cells and the lower maintenance requirements could lead to cost savings of 25% over the medium term, an economic analysis found. The first tests of the new technology are said to be conducted in the German states of Lower Saxony and Hesse.
Until recently, fuel cells have been of little importance in rail transport. This spring, however, the company CSR Qingdao Sifang Co., Ltd., which is based in eastern China, presented a tram which is driven with hydrogen. The new H2 tram, which features a fuel cell system from Ballard, left the production line in the port city of Qingdao