Hessen sends fossil fuels to the sidelines

First vehicle from the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered trains unveiled in Frankfurt.


Zero-emission mobility forms a central aspect of the energy transition. And the use of hydrogen-powered trains represents a major step in the right direction towards carbon-neutral travel. The Rhine-Main hydrogen region is proud of the promising results that have emerged from testing hydrogen-powered buses in Frankfurt’s local transport network since this summer and can now add fuelling and maintaining the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen fuel cell trains to its achievements. The fleet will be brought into service on Hessen’s Taunus rail network in stages from December onwards, marking a key milestone in sustainable mobility. This provides an eco-friendly alternative for routes where electrification by means of overhead lines is not feasible. As well as becoming more environmentally friendly than before, this solution makes local public transport quieter. The State of Hessen has therefore contributed funding worth 3 million euros towards the hydrogen filling station.

‘As well as putting the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered trains on the rails, we are replacing diesel with hydrogen for the very first time in Hessen. Following on from electric trains, electric buses and hydrogen-powered buses, we are providing our passengers with yet another means of zero-emission transport,’ says RMV Managing Director and Spokesman of the Board Prof. Knut Ringat.

Evelyn Palla, Member of the Management Board for Regional Transport at Deutsche Bahn, adds: ‘We are sending fossil fuels to the sidelines. To eliminate emissions from regional transport, we are backing hydrogen as the technology of the future. And on the Taunus lines, the future is already just around the corner. From December, we will be operating the largest fleet of hydrogen-powered trains in the world. Our passengers can then travel around in a carbon-neutral manner.’

World’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell

The Alstom Coradia iLint is the world‘s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electrical energy for propulsion. The traction battery temporarily stores any excess electricity generated and energy recovered during braking. The extensively equipped and comfortably furnished hydrogen-powered trains are just as quiet as their electric counterparts and operate with zero local emissions, as they only emit water vapour and heat into the environment.

On four lines through the Taunus

From December onwards, the first rolling stock from a fleet comprising 27 trains will start operating on the Taunus network, debuting on the RB15 line. The other vehicles will be delivered in stages until the spring as they are gradually brought into service.

Infraserv Höchst, the operating company of Industriepark Höchst, has built hydrogen storage and compressor facilities in addition to the actual refuelling facilities; the rail infrastructure in the industrial park has been extended as well. The construction of an electrolyser for hydrogen production also makes up an important part of the project. For quite some time now, hydrogen has been generated at Industriepark Höchst as a by-product of production processes.

The German federal government finances 40 per cent of the additional vehicle costs – capped at 14.7 million euros – which are incurred when compared to procuring conventional diesel vehicles. In this way, the federal government is making a key contribution towards allowing RMVto focus on alternative drive systems in vehicle procurement. In addition, the federal government is providing direct support for the construction of the hydrogen filling station at Industriepark Höchst, with funding for the project totalling 24.3 million euros.

The State of Hessen is providing 2.5 million euros of funding to construct the basic rail infrastructure for the hydrogen filling station, equating to around 60 per cent of the total costs. In addition, 800,000 euros were spent on preliminary studies and a mobile train refuelling facility.