Energy Transition

Germany has unveiled the world's first hydrogen powered train

The new hydrogen powered train transports passengers along 100 kilometers (62 miles) of track.

The new hydrogen powered train transports passengers along 100 kilometers (62 miles) of track. Image: REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

Kristin Houser
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Energy Transition?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Energy Transition is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Energy Transition

All Aboard the world's first hydrogen powered train

Hydrogen fuel cells are a greener way to power vehicles. But they have also been cost-prohibitive. Today, though, that’s starting to change — on Monday, German passengers boarded the world’s first hydrogen powered trains.

“Sure, buying a hydrogen train is somewhat more expensive than a diesel train,” said Stefan Schrank, a project manager at locomotive company Alstom, which built the trains, in an interview with Agence France-Presse, “but it is cheaper to run.”

Alstom Coradia iLint is the world's first hydrogen powered train
Alstom Coradia iLint is the world's first hydrogen powered train Image: Alstom

Electric Slide

The new hydrogen powered trains transport passengers along 100 kilometers (62 miles) of track and can travel up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) on a single tank of hydrogen, reaching top speeds of 140 kmh (87 mph).

Chemistry recap: Hydrogen fuel cells generate electricity by combining hydrogen with oxygen, and their only byproduct is water. That makes the cells a promising energy source that produces zero emissions and very little noise.

Though they remain pricey, hydrogen fuel cells have advantages over batteries. Instead of recharging, for instance, you can just refuel them like you would a gas or diesel engine. And because train schedules are highly predictable, it’s easier to build refueling infrastructure.

Have you read?

Train-Ing Day

New research is helping cut the cost of hydrogen, and the fuel source is already in use elsewhere in the world to power buses and cars. Trains are much heavier, though, so powering them with hydrogen instead of diesel could do much more to cut carbon emissions.

If all goes well with these first two trains, Alstom hopes to add another 12 to its Lower Saxony fleet. So while they might be the world’s first hydrogen powered trains, they’re unlikely to be the last.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Energy TransitionFuture of the Environment
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Window-mounted heat pumps could make apartments more sustainable. Here’s how New York is leading the way

Johnny Wood

April 11, 2024

1:31

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum