For the first time, a hydrogen-powered train is running in regular passenger service for ÖBB, the Austrian Federal Railways. The Coradia iLint, built by Alstom in Salzgitter, Germany, uses on-board fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, thus reducing operating emissions to zero.
Having successfully completed a series of test operations in Northern Germany between 2018 and 2020, the Coradia iLint train is now running passenger services in Austria for three months on geographically challenging routes.
Dr Jörg Nikutta, Alstom’s CEO in Germany and Austria, commented at the launch of the service: “With its use in regular passenger operations for ÖBB, our innovative Coradia iLint train has reached the next milestone.
“The train’s emission-free drive technology offers a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, especially on non-electrified lines.
“I am particularly pleased that ÖBB, a strong and long-term partner in the European mobility market, is convinced of our technology and its advantages.”
Andreas Matthä, CEO of ÖBB-Holding AG, added: “We clearly see ourselves as pioneers in testing hydrogen technology on rail.
“As the largest climate protection company in Austria, we are actively shaping the mobility of the future with technological alternatives.”
The Coradia iLint is the first passenger train in the world to run on a hydrogen fuel cell, which generates electrical energy for propulsion. With a top speed of 140km/h, the train is quiet and completely emission-free, emitting only steam and water.
Trial running started in September 2018, when two pre-series trains began regular passenger service in Lower Saxony, Germany. After 18 months of trial operation, and more than 180,000 kilometres covered, an order was placed for 14 of the trains, with delivery commencing in 2022.
Now, Austria’s ÖBB is testing the Coradia iLint on regional railway lines in the country’s south, where they could replace diesel-powered trains.