Alstom’s Coradia iLint hydrogen train has been named a finalist in Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas, a recognition that underscores its potential to drive significant change in the transportation sector.

This hydrogen-powered passenger train is the first of its kind to enter revenue service in the Americas, marking a pivotal moment in the adoption of hydrogen technology in North American rail systems.

In 2023, the Coradia iLint made its North American debut in Quebec, Canada. During its demonstration from mid-June to September, the train completed over 10,000 passenger trips along the Charlevoix rail network. This route, known for its scenic views along the St. Lawrence River and its location within a UNESCO biosphere reserve, provided an ideal setting to showcase the train’s capabilities.

The demonstration aimed to assess the practical steps needed to integrate hydrogen propulsion technology into North American markets. By successfully operating in a real-world environment, Alstom and its partners could gather valuable data on performance, passenger experience, and the logistics of hydrogen refueling infrastructure.

The recognition by Fast Company highlights Alstom’s role in advancing green energy solutions within the transportation industry. Michael Keroullé, President of Alstom Americas, emphasized that this accolade reflects the company’s commitment to delivering low-carbon transportation options globally. It also celebrates the dedication and expertise of Alstom’s staff and suppliers who are instrumental in these innovations.

Brendan Vaughn, Fast Company’s editor-in-chief, noted the global nature of this year’s honorees, stressing the collective effort to address significant global challenges through inventive solutions. The inclusion of the Coradia iLint in this list indicates its potential impact on sustainable transportation.

The Coradia iLint’s achievements must be contextualized within the broader hydrogen transportation sector. Hydrogen trains, while innovative, face competition from battery-electric trains and other low-emission technologies. The key advantages of hydrogen trains include longer range and faster refueling times compared to battery-electric alternatives, making them particularly suitable for routes lacking electrified tracks.

However, the adoption of hydrogen trains is contingent on the development of a comprehensive hydrogen infrastructure, which includes production, distribution, and refueling stations. Compared to Europe, where hydrogen trains are already in service in several countries, North America’s hydrogen infrastructure is still in its nascent stages. The success of Alstom’s demonstration in Quebec could catalyze further investment and development in this area.

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