Alstom, the global rail transportation leader based in France, is set to bring its hydrogen train to Saudi Arabia later this year, according to a senior company official.
Tamer Salama, Alstom’s GCC Managing Director, revealed the company’s plans during an interview at the Middle East Rail event in Abu Dhabi. The introduction of the hydrogen train in Saudi Arabia is expected to take place during the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in October 2023.
Alstom has been actively developing its hydrogen train technology, which has already been successfully deployed in Germany since 2018 and is soon to be operational in Italy, France, and Denmark. The company has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Saudi Railway Company (SAR) to adapt its hydrogen train solutions to suit the Saudi Arabian market.
The availability of hydrogen in the region is expected to increase as more hydrogen projects are launched. Salama noted ongoing green hydrogen initiatives in the UAE, NEOM, Oman, and Qatar, indicating that hydrogen will likely become widely accessible in the near future. Salama also mentioned that rail authorities in the UAE are likely to observe the hydrogen train trials in Saudi Arabia, potentially paving the way for future implementations.
One notable advantage of the hydrogen train is its long-distance capability. Alstom’s tests have demonstrated that the train can travel over 1,000 kilometers without refueling, making it a suitable option for distances ranging from 300 km to 1,000 km or more. Salama emphasized that hydrogen trains can be introduced more quickly than electrification projects for long-distance railway tracks, as establishing refueling stations along the route is relatively simpler and faster.
In terms of refueling infrastructure, Alstom collaborates with partners in Europe to manage hydrogen stations and supplies. The company has a global agreement with ENGIE for providing mobile or fixed refueling stations and supplies, and similar partnerships will be identified for the region.
Looking at the broader railway landscape, Salama mentioned increased activities related to the GCC Railway project. This ambitious initiative aims to connect the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member countries through a 2,117-kilometer railway network. The UAE-Oman railway is the first phase, with Saudi Arabia and Qatar engaged in discussions. An official announcement regarding a GCC rail authority to oversee the project is anticipated.
The introduction of Alstom’s hydrogen train in Saudi Arabia not only showcases the company’s commitment to sustainable transportation solutions but also contributes to the broader efforts of reducing carbon emissions in the region’s rail sector. As hydrogen continues to gain traction as a clean energy source, the implementation of hydrogen trains presents a significant step towards achieving more environmentally friendly and efficient transportation systems.