New German trains to challenge diesel locomotives

Date: 25-Sep-18
Author: Liam Taylor

With air pollution a mounting concern in many German cities, diesel trains may be on their way out. Image: Unsplash © Liam Taylor

With air pollution a mounting concern in many German cities, diesel trains may be on their way out. Image: Unsplash

In a world first, Germany has launched the world’s first two hydrogen-powered trains in the state of Lower Saxony, with hopes high that the innovative technology could help combat air pollution and climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Built by French manufacturer Alstom the two bright blue Coradia iLint trains began operating a 100km route between the towns and cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude in Northern Germany. This route has traditionally been plied by diesel trains. 

The technology is costlier than the highly polluting diesel trains that criss-cross the nation but are a far more environmentally responsible option on non-electrified railway lines. Operation costs are also lower than that of diesel trains and are expected to continue to drop as fossil fuel prices continue to grow.

The hydrogen trains work by producing electricity through the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, a process that results in steam and water as the only by-products. Excess energy is stored in ion lithium batteries that can be used to power the train where hydrogen stocks run dry.

Alstom is planning to deliver another 14 of the trains in Lower Saxony by 2021, with other German states also expressing an interest in the zero-emission technology. 

A number of other countries around the world including Britain, France, Denmark and Canada are considering introducing hydrogen trains to their fleets. At this stage there are no plans for the technology to be introduced in Australia.


Positive Action

  • Where possible, walk, ride a bicycle, take a public transport or car-pool over driving your car alone. This alone will dramatically reduce your greenhouse footprint.
  • Write a letter to your local Member of Parliament demanding more research and investment into renewable energy technologies.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes. 

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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