For the first time in Baden-Württemberg, an H2 train will be used in regular operation – from the middle of the month on the Zollern-Alb railways.
The Alstom Coradia iLint fuel cell vehicle will mainly operate on the Eyach – Hechingen and Hechingen – Gammertingen – Sigmaringen routes. On these routes, the hydrogen-powered train is expected to replace a train from the current diesel fleet of the Südwestdeutsche Landesverkehrs-AG (SWEG) for the duration of the trial operation until the end of February 2022.
The use of the Coradia iLint is responsible for the use of the SWEG as well as the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport and manufacturer Alstom. In addition, an external expert will accompany the project in order to monitor how suitable the Coradia is for everyday use over all seasons and how well it can cope with the demanding topography of the Swabian Alb.
The start of the trial operation was originally planned for May, but had to be postponed due to delays on the part of the originally engaged hydrogen supplier. In Air Liquide, an alternative supplier has now been found, the project initiators say. The company supplies a mobile hydrogen filling station at the Hechingen train station with green hydrogen.
The Coradia iLint is produced by Alstom at the Salzgitter plant. The model has two fuel cells and batteries on board and should travel up to 1,000 kilometers without stopping. The Coradia iLint has been used on a trial basis in regular scheduled service for three years – in Germany as well as in other European countries.
The Lower Saxony regional transport company (LNVG) was one of the first public transport companies to sign a firm purchase agreement – for a total of 14 BZ trains. The SWEG also tested the Coradia iLint in January 2019 on a one-off special trip from Offenburg to Freudenstadt. Previously, the supervisory board and the executive board of SWEG had taken a trip with the vehicle in Lower Saxony in October 2018.
“We are faced with the question of how local emission-free train traffic can be offered in regional networks in the future,” comments SWEG CEO Tobias Harms. “It is important for us to find out whether there are alternatives on the vehicle side to the classic electrification of the railroad.” Baden-Württemberg’s Transport Minister Winfried Hermann emphasizes that modern mobility must be climate-friendly.
“That is why the state has drawn up a comprehensive electrification concept for the railways. Where electrification is not possible, railcars with fuel cells or battery-electric cars are the modern answer to diesel locomotives. Two good reasons why we promote new technologies: They are locally emission-free and the railcars are low-noise – a plus for the residents. “