Alstom’s first hydrogen trains are rolling in France this week
Already in service in Germany, the Coradia iLint hydrogen train is carrying out its first tests on the network of the Centre-Val de Loire region.
First experiment in real conditions in France for Alstom’s Coradia iLint hydrogen train. Since Wednesday and until Friday, a train with a capacity of 120 passengers has been running on the regional network of Centre-Val de Loire, providing the Tours-Loches link. A section of the network that is not electrified (not equipped with catenaries). These trials are funded to the tune of 300,000 euros by the region. They mark the first stage of a test campaign, which should lead to the certification of these trains, in order to put them into commercial service within four to five years.
” On our daily lines, we have to replace our diesel trains. We are in discussion with Alstom. (…) We can think about buying them on the horizon of five years“, emphasizes François Bonneau, president of the Centre-Val de Loire region. This train issuitable for small lines», he “will allow a new development of the territory “, around medium-sized cities and not only around large metropolises, he added.
It is therefore several years after Germany and Italy that a French region will have taken the step of the hydrogen train. It is indeed across the Rhine that Alstom met with its first successes in this area where it has a world lead. Because the French rail giant was the first to bet and invest in this technology in 2014, also coming up against the skepticism of its competitors.
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After passing the test stage, a phase launched in Europe in 2018, Alstom has qualified its technology in several countries. Since August 24, the Frenchman has been the only manufacturer in the world whose hydrogen trains are in commercial service. Six Coradia iLint, ordered by the Land of Lower Saxony in Germany, transport passengers. According to Alstom, these six trains will avoid the release into the atmosphere of 9,800 tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of the emissions of 5,600 cars. Since the beginning of the year, the Land of Hesse has put the first of the 27 Coradia iLints ordered into service. And Italy plans to welcome passengers on board the first 6 trains, called Coradia Stream, at the end of 2023.
12 hybrid trains for 4 other regions
Four French regions – Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie – are however also ready to green their daily public transport. In April 2022, SNCF ordered, on their behalf, 12 hybrid electric/hydrogen TER trains, called Regiolis, for 190 million euros, from Alstom. These trains, with a range of 600 km on non-electrified lines, should run from 2023. And, after tests, welcome their first passengers between the end of 2024 and the beginning of 2025.
In total, Alstom has signed 70 orders, including 10 options, for its hydrogen train and a letter of intent for 10 copies, with the British company Eversholt Rail. Expressions of interest are multiplying around the world, where states are investing massively in “green” rail. Including in the United States where Alstom has planned to ship a train there to organize demonstrations in 2023.
World autonomy record
To meet the decarbonization of daily transport and the needs of lines that are not all electrified, Alstom is therefore deploying several solutions, from 100% hydrogen trains to battery-powered trains and hybrid trains. “Half of the French network is not electrified”recalls Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, Managing Director of Alstom France, who believes that “hydrogen is the future of clean mobility“. In Europe, between 4,000 to 5,000 diesel trains, including 1,200 trains in France, are in circulation and will have to be replaced between 2028 and 2038.
Alstom’s hydrogen train is well suited to regional lines, which are not electrified, unlike the TGV and urban networks. But also to freight lines. Especially since autonomy is not a brake. In 2022, Alstom set a world record with 1,175 km traveled by a Coradia iLint, which crossed Germany, without refueling!
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