Calabria, a region in southern Italy, had ambitious plans to lead the experimentation of new hydrogen trains, as part of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) to restart the economy after Covid-19. However, a recent setback has put a significant dent in those plans, as the tender for the supply of eight hydrogen trains, worth a total of 109.6 million euros, has gone unawarded.
Ferrovie della Calabria, the state-owned railway company, put out the call for tenders in December 2022, with the aim of renewing its entire fleet in the railway sector. The tender included five hydrogen railcars, assistance, and an option for three more railcars, all of which were to be financed with PNRR resources. However, despite the deadline being extended several times, no satisfactory offers were received by the end of March 2023, when the tender closed.
This is a significant problem for the region, which has already received the first tranche of the general financing and is expected to complete all works by the end of 2026. The failure to award the tender may put the entire investment in jeopardy, and the region may need to consider alternative options to fulfil its ambitious plans.
The use of hydrogen as a fuel for transportation has been gaining popularity worldwide due to its potential as a clean and renewable energy source. Hydrogen-powered trains, in particular, have been gaining traction in Europe, with countries like Germany and the Netherlands already operating such trains. The trains produce zero emissions, as the only byproduct of hydrogen combustion is water.
The potential impact of hydrogen trains in Calabria could have been significant. The region is home to a number of industrial areas that are being redeveloped, and the production of green hydrogen in Corigliano Rossano and Lamezia Terme was expected to have important repercussions in the region. The failure to secure the tender may now delay or even cancel these plans, causing a significant setback for the region’s economic recovery.
It is unclear at this point if a new tender will be published with different specifications or if the region will need to consider alternative options. However, it is clear that the failure to secure the tender is a significant setback for the ambitious plans of the Calabria region, and it remains to be seen how they will move forward.