The world’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia iLint, is expected to enter service for a trial run in the south of Austria through an alpine route. The trial run is due to go on until at least the end of November 2020. The train is slated to start carrying passengers this week and its deployment will be used to evaluate, among other things, how it operates on challenging alpine routes.
Constructed by the European transport firm Alstom, the Coradia iLint harnesses fuel cell technology to turn oxygen and hydrogen into electricity. According to the company, it can reach speeds of up to 140 kilometers per hour, is low-noise, and “emits only steam and water.” The Coradia iLint has already carried passengers in parts of Germany and underwent ten days of testing on a 65 kilometer stretch of railway in the Netherlands at the beginning of 2020. According to the CEO of Alstom, Jörg Nikutta, the “train’s emission-free drive technology” offered “a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, especially on non-electrified lines.”
Whereas some trains are powered using electricity, others still rely on diesel to carry out their journeys, a less than perfect situation when governments around the world are looking to boost air quality and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. The Coradia iLint is part of a small but growing selection of hydrogen-powered transportation methods. London is home to a handful of hydrogen buses, for example, while major car firms Toyota and Honda have both dipped into the hydrogen fuel cell market.
Overall, Alstom sold 41 of these hydrogen-powered trains in Germany. Several other countries have also expressed interest in this emission-free technology. Earlier this year, Alstom carried out tests of the Coradia iLint train on the 65km line in the Netherlands.