The first fully hydrogen-powered passenger train service is now running in Germany

Alstom's Coradia iLint trains only emit steam and condensed water.

Alstom/Sabrina Adeline Nagel

The first fully hydrogen-powered passenger train service is now up and running. Coradia iLint trains built by Alstom are running on the line in Lower Saxony, Germany. The only emissions are steam and condensed water, and Alstom notes that the train operates with a low level of noise.

Five of the trains started running this week. Another nine will be added in the coming months to replace 15 diesel trains on the regional route. Alstom says the Coradia iLint has a range of 1,000 kilometers, meaning that it can run all day on the line using a single tank of hydrogen. A hydrogen filling station has been set up on the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude.

Alstom, which started testing the trains in 2018, has agreements for Coradia iLint in other locales, including for 27 trains in the Frankfurt metropolitan area. The two other contracts are for regions in Italy and France.

The company notes that despite electrification efforts in some countries, much of Europe's rail network will rely on trains that are not electrified in the long term. It notes that there are more than 4,000 diesel-powered cars in Germany alone. In 2020, the country's national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, said it was developing a hydrogen-powered train. While it will take some time to entirely switch the continent's rail network to green energy (assuming the full conversion happens at some point), bringing hydrogen-powered trains into service is a positive step forward.