Two Alstom hydrogen-powered trains have started commercial passenger services in Germany’s Lower Saxony region.

The two Coradia iLint will operate on the Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser’s (EVB) Elbe-Weser network. The trains were manufactured in Salzgitter, Germany

Capable of running at a maximum speed of up to 140km/h, the trains will operate on around 100km of rail line on behalf of Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen (LNVG), the rail transport authority in Lower Saxony.

Alstom chairman and CEO Henri Poupart-Lafarge said: “The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport. It is an innovation that results from French-German teamwork and exemplifies successful cross-border cooperation.”

In July, the German Railway Office (EBA) approved this hydrogen fuel cell passenger trainset to start commercial operations in the national railway networks.

These trains are equipped with fuel cells that can convert hydrogen and oxygen into electrical power for operations.

“The Coradia iLint heralds a new era in emission-free rail transport.”

The Coradia iLint vehicles will replace EVB’s diesel fleet and are expected to eliminate harmful emissions caused by the old train units.

Once empty, gaseous hydrogen will be pumped into the trains from a 40ft high steel container near Bremervörde station.

With one tank, the hydrogen-powered trains can operate throughout the network for an entire day.

Lower Saxony Minister of Economy and Transport Dr Bernd Althusmann said: “The emission-free drive technology of the Coradia iLint provides a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, particularly on non-electrified lines.

“In successfully proving the operability of the fuel cell technology in daily service, we will set the course for rail transport to be largely operated climate-friendly and emission-free in the future.”

Alstom is also scheduled to deliver an additional 14 Coradia iLints trains to LNVG by 2021. Lower Saxony’s Ministry of Economy and Transport has committed more than €81m for this acquisition.