FCH2RAIL consortium has initiated its second test run of a cutting-edge prototype hydrogen-electric train. This time, the trial is set along the high-altitude railway line between Torralba and Soria in the picturesque Spanish region of Castilla y León.
The consortium had previously achieved success with the prototype during a trial along the challenging incline between Zaragoza and the Pyrenean village of Canfranc in May. However, this second phase is strategically designed to push the boundaries further. Spanning a 94km section of line at altitudes between 1079m and 1061m, the test aims to evaluate the train’s performance rigorously and simulate various commercial services.
The prototype itself is a retrofitted class 463 Civia Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) from the renowned Spanish manufacturer CAF, provided by the state operator Renfe. What sets it apart is its innovative propulsion system—powered by hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. The train generates electricity through the electrolysis of onboard hydrogen and oxygen from the air, with water being the sole by-product. Remarkably, it also possesses the capability to draw power from overhead lines.
The FCH2RAIL consortium brings together a formidable lineup of industry leaders and entities. Alongside Adif, CAF, and Renfe, the consortium comprises the German Aerospace Centre (DLR), Toyota, CNH2, Infrastructure Portugal (IP), and Stemmann-Technik. The collaborative €14 million project receives substantial funding from the European Commission agency Clean Hydrogen Partnership (formerly FCH2 JU) and is slated to continue until the next year.
The implications of this hydrogen-electric train prototype are substantial. If successful, it could mark a transformative shift in the landscape of railway transportation. The utilization of hydrogen fuel cells not only addresses environmental concerns but also introduces a viable alternative to conventional electrification methods. With water as the only emission, the prototype aligns with the global push for cleaner, greener transit solutions.