China’s rolling stock manufacturer CRRC subsidiary Qingdao Sifang has signed a contract to manufacture eight hydrogen-powered tramcars.

The trams have the capacity to accommodate 285 passengers and the fleet will run on the 17.4km Gaoming Line, which will serve 20 stations in Foshan city in South China's Guangdong province.

Each vehicle has a maximum speed of 70km/h.

Hydrogen fuel cells are a new clean energy source that is widely used in the automobile industry, but their use in rail transit is not as common, Qingdao Sifang said.

Hydrogen-powered trams have longer ranges and a minimal carbon footprint as they only discharge water during operations.

"Hydrogen-powered trams have longer ranges and a minimal carbon footprint as they only discharge water during operations."

Qingdao developed the world's first hydrogen-powered tramcar in 2015, with China at the forefront of this technology.

As reported by the Xinhua news agency, the first vehicle developed by Sifang was rolled-off the assembly line in China's eastern Shandong Province. It can be refilled with hydrogen within a short period of time and can run at speeds of 100km/h.

The tram is fitted with 60 seats and capable of accommodating more than 380 passengers. The tram network involved an investment of $110bn and construction on this started last month.

Eight new trams using hydrogen fuel cells are expected to become operational by next year.