For about three months there is a real world premiere on the railway line between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude. For it is precisely in the province of Lower Saxony that the world's first hydrogen train is operating in scheduled service. This was manufactured by the French company Alstom, while the Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen organizes the operation. Both companies have now drawn a first interim balance and are very satisfied with the use of the train. This is good news for the climate. Because there are no overhead lines on the track, so far a diesel locomotive was used. The hydrogen train, on the other hand, does not cause any emissions while driving. Instead, simply harmless water vapor is released to the environment.
One tank load lasts for several days
Responsible for the drive is the so-called fuel cell. This converts hydrogen and air into electricity, which is stored in lithium-ion batteries on board. The batteries, in turn, then provide power to the electric motor of the train. On the 100 kilometers between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude, the technology worked flawlessly so far and there were no technical train cancellations. However, after a few days the train has to go to the hydrogen filling station in Bremervörde. The process takes much less time than, for example, charging the battery of an electric car. A spokesman for the transport companies also emphasized another important advantage: the hydrogen train is significantly quieter than the diesel-powered alternative.
Lower Saxony wants to replace all diesel locomotives
The noise pollution for the residents of the railway line has thus reduced by the use of new technology. The positive experiences from Lower Saxony should now ensure that the technology prevails worldwide. Initial inquiries have already been received by Alstom – for example from Japan, Indonesia and Canada. But the state of Lower Saxony also wants to invest further and replace all 120 diesel locomotives with trains with a fuel cell in the next few years. To this end, about 80 million euros were provided to state funding. Because even this is still true: So far, the cost and the necessary investments in the infrastructure are still so high that this can not be recovered alone with the tickets sold. However, as with most new technologies, further progress is expected over the next few years.