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Riding the Green Revolution: Hydrogen-Powered Trains in Germany

As of August, when the first hydrogen-powered passenger trains began service outside of Hamburg, Germany, rail travel was officially the greenest mode of transportation in the world. French mobility business Alstom produces these trains, which use hydrogen fuel-cell technology to provide electrical energy for the engines, doing away with the need for fossil fuels. A total of 14 zero-emission trains will replace older diesel trains in this part of Germany by the beginning of 2023, cutting annual diesel fuel use by 422,000 gallons and yearly CO2 emissions by more than 4,000 tons.

German rail business Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen will operate the Coradia iLint trains over a 62-mile regional line in Lower Saxony. Each train may run for a whole day on a single tank of hydrogen fuel (LNVG). These 300-seater trains are available to commuters and tourists alike, and they may be used to visit cities like Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde, and Buxtehude, all of which are located on the so-called "German Fairy Tale Route."

Many railroads throughout the world have committed to aggressive decarbonization goals for 2050 as part of the United Nations' "Race to Zero" campaign. This effort is being pushed forward with extra haste because to the severe health hazards caused by air pollution. As of 2019, trains in the European Union released 3.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Citizens have filed lawsuits demanding that Germany do more to curb air pollution and decrease emissions. Energy prices have skyrocketed due to problems in Russian supply. While diesel trains are currently the industry standard, hydrogen trains may be a more practical and affordable option for the future.

Alstom VP Brahim Soua claims that in addition to being environmentally friendly, hydrogen trains are also quieter during operation, which is beneficial for both passengers and bystanders. Alstom estimates that by 2035, around 6,000 passenger trains in Europe would need to be converted from diesel to hydrogen in order to meet climate goals. Hydrogen-powered trains have the potential to replace 2,500,000 to 3,050,000 diesel trains in Germany.

Along the new Lower Saxony track, German gas and engineering firm Linde has set up the first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains, where the trains may recharge on a regular basis. Environmentalists, however, warn that the "grey" hydrogen now in use relies on infrastructure that burns fossil fuels, as opposed to the "green" hydrogen that may be generated using renewable energy.

The hydrogen-powered trains are a giant leap toward a greener future that has the potential to make rail travel even greener. If you're ever in Germany, whether as a tourist or a local, you must ride one of these revolutionary trains.


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