Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) has launched a three-month-long passenger trial of a hydrogen train as it seeks to explore technological alternatives to reduce transport emissions.

In the passenger trial, the company is using Alstom-built Coradia iLint, which runs on a hydrogen fuel cell.

ÖBB is expected to test the vehicle on regional railway lines in the southern part of Austria to assess its effectiveness as a potential replacement of diesel trains.

ÖBB-Holding CEO Andreas Matthä said: “We clearly see ourselves as pioneers in testing hydrogen technology on rail. As the largest climate protection company in Austria, we are actively shaping the mobility of the future with technological alternatives.”

This comes after Coradia iLint underwent test operations in northern Germany between 2018 and this year.

The Coradia iLint uses onboard fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. Designed specifically for use on non-electrified lines, the emission-free train only discharges steam and water.

Alstom Germany and Austria CEO Dr Jörg Nikutta said: “With its use in regular passenger operations for ÖBB, our innovation train Coradia iLint has reached the next milestone.

“The train’s emission-free drive technology offers a climate-friendly alternative to conventional diesel trains, especially on non-electrified lines.

“I am particularly pleased that ÖBB, a strong and long-term partner in the European mobility market, is convinced of our technology and its advantages.”

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.