Siemens, Deutsche Bahn to debut hydrogen powered local train trial

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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The Germany-based transportation provider Siemens Mobility and berlin-headquartered railway company Deutsche Bahn have jointly commenced developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains and a filling station.

The German companies have initiated the trials intending to take away diesel engines from the country’s local rail networks with the hydrogen-powered service’s rollout in 2024.

Siemens in a statement said that the prototype will be built based on the company’s electric railcar Mireo Plus that will be equipped with fuel cells which can convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity onboard and with a battery.

Earlier, the German transport system providers had explained Mireo Plus to consume 25 percent less energy than its conventional equivalents because of its lightweight construction, energy-efficient components and intelligent onboard energy management.

The chief executive Siemens mobility Mr. Michael Peter stated that the train has incorporated three possible sources to be fed in a modular system either by the battery, the fuel cell or even existing overhead lines, depending on where it would run.

The German railway operator Deutsche Bahn runs a 33,000 kilometer (km) long network of which 40 percent are still not electrified. The company is still depending on about 1,300 fossil-fuel emitting diesel locomotives for its services.

The 2030 Climate Target Plan of the European Union which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55 percent below 1990 levels within 10 years, proposes that rail transport must be decarbonized over a period of time.

“Our hydrogen trains are able to replace diesel-fueled trains in the long term,” Mr. Peter added, the new prototype can be fueled within 15 minutes, has a range of 600 km and a top speed of 160 km/hour. 

The target market of the hydrogen trains are operators of regional networks that typically re-order 10 to 50 trains. “We see a market potential of 10,000-15,000 trains in Europe that will need to be replaced over the next 10-15 years, with 3,000 alone in Germany,” Mr. Peter said.

As per the company’s statement, each train will range between $5.9 million and $11.9 million which creates a market potential of $59 billion to $178 billion.

The Berlin government is estimating that over a period the green hydrogen will become competitive with fossil fuels and play a significant role in decarbonizing industries and tranport.