End of the line: first adopter of hydrogen trains last year opts for all-electric future

From Tallbloke’s Talkshop

 August 5, 2023 by oldbrew

German hydrogen train [image credit: Euractiv]

Being known as the misery line didn’t help the case for hydrogen trains, with a third of the train drivers resigning amid various operational difficulties. One German state estimated hydrogen trains would be 80% more expensive to run than electric over a 30-year period.
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The state-owned public transport company responsible for introducing the world’s first hydrogen-only railway line last year has effectively ruled out using any more H2 trains, saying that battery-electric models “are cheaper to operate”, reports Hydrogen Insight.

LNVG, which is owned by the government of Lower Saxony, had invested more than €93m ($85m) in 14 hydrogen fuel-cell trains, which began operating in August 2022.

The federal government also contributed a further €8.4m — €4.3m of which was spent on the world’s first H2 train refuelling station, built by Linde in the town of Bremervörde.

Two Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen trains had been tested on the line — between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude — since 2018, when they became the first ever H2 trains put into commercial operation.

However, the Lower Saxony government has now announced that it will replace the remainder of its diesel trains by 2037, not with any hydrogen models, but with 102 battery-electric “multiple units” — a tender for which will be held this year — and a further 27 non-battery electric trains on one particular route that will be completely electrified (Osnabrück – Oldenburg).

The state’s Ministry for Economic Affairs, Transport, Building and Digitisation explains that battery trains can be powered by overhead electricity lines (ie, catenary systems), or be charged by what it calls “charging islands” — and can operate without constant contact with the overhead cables.

“The basis for the purchase of the new battery-powered is market research into alternative drives, which LNVG carried out,” the ministry said in a statement. “In particular, trains with hydrogen drives and batteries were considered. Result: battery trains are cheaper to operate.”

Full report here.