Alstom has signed an agreement to build a total of 14 fuel cell trains for the Local Transport Authority of Lower Saxony Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG).

The hydrogen-driven Coradia iLint trains have been designed to run completely emission-free, and the first passenger service is expected to start in Lower Saxony.

The fuel cell trains will be built at Alstom’s Salzgitter site and are set to serve passengers travelling between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude from December 2021.

Additionally, the Alstom-built trains will replace the diesel multiple units currently operated by the transport authority Elbe-Weser-Verkehrsbetriebe (evb), reducing the daily pollutant emissions during daily service to zero.

Coradia iLint locomotives are capable of covering up to 1,000km and can reach a maximum speed of up to 140 km/h.

The prototype is scheduled conduct a pilot operation along the evb network next year together with a second vehicle.

“A hydrogen-fuelled passenger regional train will replace diesel trains, generating zero emission with the same performance as a regular regional train and up to 1,000km autonomy.”

LNVG will initially purchase the trains for its own vehicle pool and subsequently rent them to a railway operator at a later date.

Alstom has agreed to provide maintenance for the locomotives from the evb depot in Bremervörde.

Alstom Europe senior vice-president Gian Luca Erbacci said: “For the first time worldwide, a hydrogen-fuelled passenger regional train will replace diesel trains, generating zero emission with the same performance as a regular regional train and up to 1,000km autonomy.”

The Linde Group will provide hydrogen supply for the new fuel cell trains, as well as erect and operate the first hydrogen filling station for locomotives in Bremervörde.

The investment is expected to cost around €10m, which will be provided by the Federal Government.

LNVG will rent the premises for the filling station from evb and has agreed to make the site available to Linde.

The on-site production of hydrogen via electrolysis and by means of wind energy will be planned during the project’s later phase.