MUNICH (Reuters) – Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn have begun developing hydrogen-powered fuel cell trains and a fueling station that will be trialled in 2024 with the aim of replacing diesel engines on German local rail networks.
The prototype, which will be built by Siemens, is based on the Mireo Plus electric wagon which will be equipped with fuel cells to transform hydrogen and oxygen into electricity on board and with a battery, both companies said.
Siemens Chief Executive Officer for Mobility, Michael Peter, told Reuters that the train combined the ability to be powered from three sources into a modular system: from the battery, fuel cell or even existing overhead lines, to depending on where it would be performed.
German rail operator Deutsche Bahn has not electrified 40% of its 33,000 kilometer (km) network, which runs 1,300 diesel locomotives emitting fossil fuels.
Rail transport needs to be decarbonised in the long term as part of the EU and national climate goals.
“Our hydrogen trains are capable of replacing diesel-powered trains in the long run,” said Peter.
The new prototype will be refueled within 15 minutes, will have a range of 600 km and a top speed of 160 km / hour.
It will be tested between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The main target market is regional network operators who typically reorder batches of 10 to 50 trains, Peter said.
“We see a market potential of 10,000-15,000 trains in Europe to be replaced in the next 10-15 years, with 3,000 in Germany alone,” he said.
Each train will cost between five and 10 million euros ($ 5.9- $ 11.9 million), creating a total market potential of 50-150 billion euros.
The Berlin government expects green hydrogen to become competitive with fossil fuels in the long run and play a key role in the decarbonisation of industry, heating and transportation.
Reportage by Joern Poltz in Munich and Vera Eckert in Frankfurt, edited by David Evans