French company Alstom unveiled the first-ever passenger train powered completely by hydrogen at this week’s Berlin InnoTrans trade show. The hydrogen train or “hydrail” will be put into service on Germany’s Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony by December 2017. After two years in development, the “Coradia iLint” train offers a zero-emissions alternative to Germany’s existing fleet of diesel trains, thanks to a roof-mounted tank of hydrogen fuel.
The hydrail is an electric train operating with a hydrogen fuel tank on its roof that powers a fuel cell to generate electricity. This train, and others like it to come in the future, are part of a big push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. The Coradia iLint will be the first of its kind to carry passengers along the railway, as most other innovations in hydrail technology have been focused on cargo transport.
“Alstom is proud to launch a breakthrough innovation in the field of clean transportation which will complete its Coradia range of regional trains,” said Alstom chairman and CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge, in a statement. “It shows our ability to work in close collaboration with our customers and develop a train in only two years.”
Due to its electric engine, the Coradia iLint is much quieter than traditional diesel trains. In fact, even at its top speed of 87 miles per hour (140 km/h), the only sound passengers will hear comes from the motion of the wheels and air resistance. Although the hydrail trains are reportedly more expensive than existing diesel models, officials in other parts of Germany, as well as in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, are interested in bringing the clean running trains to their regular rail services as well.