Spanish rail manufacturer Talgo is developing a high-speed train system powered by hydrogen fuel cells in collaboration with nine other companies, set to be the first of its kind in the world. 

The consortium of Spanish companies, operating under the Hympulso project, is developing a dual-hybrid battery traction system for use on Talgo’s 250 train model, replacing one of the two diesel “technical end cars” with one equipped with green hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. 

In addition to Talgo, other Hympulso partners include Golendus, Ingeteam, Optimus3D, Repsol and Sener, while Universidad Pontificia Comillas and Tecnalia are listed as collaborators and Spain’s national rail infrastructure manager Adif is an observer. 

Adif’s involvement in the project will also allow the project to explore the impact of a transition to greener energy on rail infrastructure and develop safety requirements around issues such as the hydrogen-powered vehicles themselves and refuelling facilities. 

Outlining the full scope of Hympulso, Talgo said: “The project will result in a joint output of hydrogen supply installations adapted to railways -both mobile and static- and a pioneering prototype of a hybrid bimodal train for passengers with automatic track-gauge change, which will be able to run both on conventional and high-speed networks, using catenary supply when available, or hydrogen and batteries in those corridors that are not electrified.” 

The project is part of the Spanish Government’s Incentive Programme for the Innovative Value Chain and Knowledge of Renewable Hydrogen, part of the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, and has received a €6.5m grant towards its funding. 

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By GlobalData

Though hydrogen trains have become a growing part of the rail industry, with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers such as Stadler, CRRC and Alstom already developing and supplying the technology, it is thought that Talgo’s train could become the first high-speed model to operate with the alternative fuel.