Fleet of hydrogen passenger trains starts service in Germany

BERLIN — German officials on Wednesday launched the world’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trains, replacing 15 diesel trains previously running on non-electrified tracks in the state of Lower Saxony.

The 14 trains use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity that powers the engines. The German government supports the expansion of the use of hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.

State governor Stephan Weil said the 93 million euro ($92 million) project was an “excellent example” of Lower Saxony’s efforts to green its economy.

The trains of the French company Alstom are operated by the regional railway company LNVG on routes between the northern cities of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude.

Alstom says the Coradia iLint trains have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a maximum speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). Using hydrogen produced from renewable energy, the trains save 1.6 million liters (more than 422,000 gallons) of diesel fuel per year.

The hydrogen is currently produced as a by-product in chemical processes, but the German specialty gas company Linde plans to produce it locally within three years using only renewable energy.

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