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First order of hydrogen trains in France

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Image: Alstom

The regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est, and Occitanie sign the country’s first order for dual mode electric-hydrogen trains.

This is a landmark step forward in the elimination of CO2 emissions from rail transportation for the good of customers and countries, as well as the growth of a hydrogen environment and a promising future market.

SNCF Voyageurs, on behalf of the four regions, has placed an order with Alstom for the first 12 dual mode electric-hydrogen trains (plus two optional trainsets) in Alstom’s Coradia Polyvalent series for Régiolis. The deal is worth almost €190 million in total. Originally powered by steam and thermal energy, trains were later powered by electric energy; this breakthrough represents a true revolution in rail mobility.

It will be the first of its kind in France, working towards the energy transformation targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, an ambition backed by the French government through its Hydrogen program, which was unveiled in June 2018. It is completely consistent with the PLANETER program, which aims to reduce the environmental effect of SNCF Voyageurs’ regional mobility strategies by adding more TERs (regional express trains), based on the belief that introducing more TERs (regional express trains) will greatly reduce CO2 emissions. Other French regions have also shown an interest in engaging in the project’s second half.

This official French order for hydrogen-powered trains is the culmination of two years of collaboration among the project’s various stakeholders. The dual mode electric-hydrogen Coradia Polyvalent train serves the needs of France’s complex rail network and has a range of up to 600 km on non-electrified sections. This four-car, 72-meter-long train has the same diverse output and level of comfort as the dual mode electric-diesel variant.

Since 2011, French regions have purchased nearly 400 dual mode electric-thermal and full-electric Coradia Polyvalent trains. Alstom and its suppliers would create over 2,000 jobs in France as a result of the construction and production of Coradia Polyvalent trains. The project involves six of Alstom’s 15 French sites: Reichshoffen (Bas-Rhin) for design and assembly, Ornans (Doubs) for engines, Le Creusot (Saône-et-Loire) for bogies, Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées) for traction chains and hydrogen propulsion production, Villeurbanne (Rhône) for on-board electronics, and Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint

“France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains.”

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition

“Environmental protection is a major issue and without doubt the greatest challenge of the 21st century. This order for the first Coradia trains in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is the next step in our region’s ambition to boost green growth focusing on innovation, business development and job creation. Since our commitment to the European project Zero Emission Valley, we have aimed to make our region – home to almost all players in the hydrogen sector – one of the lowest carbon regions in Europe, by developing applications for this new source of energy. Hydrogen trains are an innovative alternative to the diesel trains running on our non-electrified lines.”

Laurent Wauquiez, president of the regional council of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

“As a source of energy and a storage solution, hydrogen, and particularly green hydrogen, is a way not only to tackle the effects of global warming, but also to boost employment, attractiveness and growth in our region. As a pioneer in this strategic technology, the region has brought together the talents and skills of both Bourgogne and Franche-Comté in its shift towards hydrogen. The order for three Coradia Polyvalent H2s worth a total of 52 million euros marks another step in our rollout of hydrogen for low-carbon mobility solutions. The trains will run between Auxerre and Laroche-Migennes, and will be part of the first regional ecosystem in France to include the train, based in Auxerre.”

Marie-Guite Dufay, president of the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

“This landmark order confirms our commitment to maintaining employment and activity at the Reichshoffen site, where all the trains – three plus two optional for the Grand Est region and nine others ordered by our counterparts – will be assembled. This is the first step in the long-term strategy of TER Grand Est and our involvement in this unprecedented programme aims to stimulate a nationwide launch of the light hydrogen train in France. Indeed, the trials carried out will be fundamental in developing a French hydrogen rail sector and, in a second phase, producing the light hydrogen train that the Grand Est region badly needs to roll out its policy to save and develop its small railways.”

President of the regional council of Grand Est.

“This is a key moment in our drive for hydrogen in Occitanie. This first order gives the go-ahead for a new era of technological progress at the service of green mobility with the liO regional public transport service. The Occitanie Region is the only one committed to the 4 greening solutions for its regional trains (Régiolis Hybrid, battery train, bioGNV, hydrogen) and will welcome the 3 hydrogen Régiolis trains on the Montréjeau – Luchon line which we are going to reopen by 2025. It is also good news for our region’s employment and growth, particularly with the Alstom plant in Tarbes involved in manufacturing these innovative trains. Low-carbon reindustrialisation of our regions and green mobility solutions are no longer a utopian dream, they are already at work in our regions. I would like to salute the collective engagement of the four regions that have demonstrated their capacity to initiate and support this project, which promotes the emergence of a promising sector for the future here in France.”

Carole Delga, president of the regional council of Occitanie / Pyrénées – Méditerranée.

“Alstom is particularly proud to be contributing, alongside SNCF Voyageurs and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie regions, to a cleaner and more sustainable mobility solution. Alstom is the first rail company in the world to launch a hydrogen train onto the market and to master this technology through its iLint train, developed for the German market. This new order for the French market is fully in line with Alstom Group’s ambition to become number one in the green and smart mobility market and to help roll out an efficient hydrogen ecosystem in our regions.”

Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, president of Alstom France.

“This order marks a historic and concrete step towards clean mobility, by rolling out a new rail solution with zero direct emissions. Hydrogen has become a concrete solution to help regions achieve their energy transition. We are proud of our commitment to this way forward and of the addition of this technology to the range of solutions developed for our regions through our PLANETER programme. This order is the result of several years of work alongside our organising authorities and the manufacturer, achieved through the commitment and expertise of our teams in the Rolling Stock and TER departments, to develop a hydrogen train to meet our regions’ needs.”

Christophe Fanichet, CEO, SNCF Voyageurs.

Arnes Biogradlija
Creative Content Director at EnergyNews.Biz

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