The US-based engineering firm Aecom has struck an agreement to upgrade the Apennine diesel railway in Italy with hydrogen-powered trains, with the aim of supporting economic growth in the region.
In this regard, the firm has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Spanish renewables group Iberdrola, and Italy-based partners Cinque International and Ancitel Energy and Environment.
As agreed, Aecom will be responsible for engineering and programme management while Iberdrola will serve as industrial partner.
The partners will execute a total of four projects to enable sustainable economic recovery in the region, which was hit by earthquakes in 2009 and 2016.
Under the first project, the 300km Apennine line will be modernised and is said to become one of Italy’s first hydrogen railways.
This track stretches from the town of Sansepolcro in the northern province of Arezzo to Sulmona in the central province of L’Aquila.
Aecom noted that this line is ‘strategically important’ as it links numerous inland areas through four central regions.
A track’s section has not been electrified and is presently utilising diesel trains that will be replaced under the project.
Under the second project, pre-feasibility work will be executed for a new rail line powered by green hydrogen connecting Rome with Ascoli Piceno.
The third project will involve the evaluation of the potential for diffused green hydrogen manufacturing activity in the region.
Under the final project, the partners will explore different applications of new energy and environmental technologies in post-earthquake reconstruction.
In a statement, Aecom said: “The projects align with the aims of the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, a European Commission-led group looking at an ambitious deployment of hydrogen technologies by 2030 to support the EU’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.”
“In July 2021, the Apennine Railway project was pre-selected by the European Commission in its framework of activities for the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance, which aims to build a pipeline of viable investment projects and scale up the deployment of green hydrogen in Europe.”
In June this year, the city of Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta gave its approval to the Aecom-led ConnectED Transit Partnership to continue its responsibilities as the owner’s engineer on the Valley Line light rail transit extension project.