First adopter of hydrogen trains switches to electric models

The new models are cheaper to operate.
Loukia Papadopoulos
A model of the now abandoned hydrogen trains.jpg
A model of the now abandoned hydrogen trains.


LVNG, a German state-owned railway company and the first firm to adopt commercial hydrogen trains, is letting go of the powerful vehicles and replacing them instead with electric versions.

This is according to a report by Quartz published on Monday.

The article noted how the company began using the hydrogen fuel-cell trains in September of 2018 only to recently get rid of them because electric versions are cheaper to run and operate.

A press release by the firm further noted the company’s dedication to phasing out fossil fuels by using the new battery-electric models.

102 electric trains

"From 2029 we will successively use 102 new multiple units with battery technology that are emission-free - and thus phase out existing diesel fleets," said in the statement Lower Saxony's Transport Minister Olaf Lies.

"This is an important decision for the mobility turnaround. The new trains offer more space than the vehicles currently in use. In this way, we are creating the conditions for increasing passenger numbers.” 

The statement quoted market research that said it is particularly economical to completely electrify one route: the Osnabrück to Oldenburg destination. Lies added: “We want Deutsche Bahn to expand the connection with contact wire by 2034. This not only serves local transport, but generally increases the flexibility of the entire rail system in the event of disruptions.” 

The company had approximately 14 hydrogen fuel-cell trains on the route between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude and invested a whopping €93 million ($85 million) in them.

Quartz quoted a 2022 study commissioned by the German state of Baden-Württemberg that indicated that hydrogen trains would be 80 percent more expensive in the long run compared to their electric counterparts.

A world first

It was Alstom that had introduced the world’s first 100 percent hydrogen train in August of 2022. Called the Coradia iLint and operational first in Bremervörde, Lower Saxony, Germany the vehicle had the purpose of reducing travel’s carbon footprint.

“Emission-free mobility is one of the most important goals for ensuring a sustainable future, and Alstom has a clear ambition to become the world leader in alternative propulsion systems for rail," had said at the time Henri Poupart-Lafarge, CEO and chairman of the board of Alstom.

"The world’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia iLint, demonstrates our clear commitment to green mobility combined with state-of-the-art technology. We are very proud to bring this technology into series operation as part of a world premiere, together with our great partners."

Not all countries however are foregoing hydrogen trains. Just last June, North America’s first hydrogen train became operational in Quebec city, Quebec, Canada. The vehicle was also an Alstom model.

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