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Alstom reports successful 1.5y trial operation of Coradia iLint fuel cell trains, next project phase begins

After 530 days and more than 180,000 driven kilometers, the successful trial operation of the world’s first two hydrogen trains was officially completed at the end of February. Two pre-series trains of Alstom’s Coradia iLint model have been in passenger service since September 2018. (Earlier post.)

Coradia iLint 2018_0

From 2022, 14 Coradia iLint series trains will replace existing diesel multiple units. (Earlier post.) The Local Transport Authority of Lower Saxony (Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft Niedersachsen, LNVG) was the first company to believe in hydrogen, investing in it with the order of 14 Coradia iLint trains and thirty years of maintenance and power supply. This project showcases the importance of green mobility for the state of Lower Saxony.

As one of the leading rail vehicle manufacturers in Europe, Alstom will produce the fuel cell trains for LNVG and will be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicles at its site in Salzgitter. The gases and engineering company Linde will build and operate a hydrogen filling station for the series trains near Bremervoerde station.

Our two pre-series trains of the Coradia iLint have proven over the past year and a half that fuel cell technology can be used successfully in daily passenger service. This makes us an important driving force on the way to emission-free and sustainable mobility in rail transport. We have also obtained valuable data from the trial operation of the fuel cell trains for the further development of the propulsion technology.

—Jörg Nikutta, Managing Director for Germany and Austria of Alstom Transport Deutschland GmbH

Alstom has made hydrogen history here. The project is of a great importance to industrial policy that goes far beyond Germany. Here, we are witnessing the first competitive product of hydrogen mobility at industrial level.

—Lower Saxony’s Minister of Economics and Transport, Dr. Bernd Althusmann





I would believe that fuel cells are not needed for this application. In their trials, they only ran 170 km/day (~105 miles/day) These are designed for transit so they probably have a stop every 10-15 km (6-10)miles and probably do not operate on a route longer than 50-80 km (30-50 miles). The max power is 315 kW and it is unlikely that the average power is more than 40% of the max. Anyway, they would run for several hours on a 300 kWhr battery. This would be a lower cost solution in terms of capital equipment, fuel, and maintenance. Plus you would not have to deal with hydrogen which a problem no matter how you look at it. I doubt that these will be in service for even 10 years or, if they are, it will be because they have ripped out the fuel cells and replaced them with larger batteries.


Hi sd

They have done extensive studies to determine the operating envelope of various technologies for use in rail, including of course how long trips are in different applications.

Fuel cells and hydrogen get more competitive against batteries as vehicles get larger, so of course trains are an attractive target, along with shipping.

Here are some of the relevant studies:

It boils down to batteries being attractive for shunting etc, but for longer journeys fuel cells being more viable.

On heavily travelled routes electrification of the track works economically, but for lower volume routes fuel cells can do the job well.



I read thru your reference but still believe that most transit trains in this class could run on batteries and would be more energy efficient and cost far less for energy, capital, and maintenance. This max power is only 315 kW and that would mostly be used for acceleration and you get much of the energy back on deceleration. The top speed is only 140 km/hr (87 mph). You could easily run for several hours on a 300 kWhr battery. Proterra Buses are available with up to 660 kWhr so you could easily built these rail cars with 600 kWhr or more and run all day. Using fuel cells for this application does not make much sense. Batteries are not going to work on heavy freight as typical North American locomotives have about 3000 kW and usually run 3 or 4 locomotive on a train with fairly high continuous power output.

Sheldon A Harrison


No, most transit trains in this class could not easily run on batteries. The Germans are masters of understanding technical requirements and concluded that H2 is necessary for the service patterns of this route. The route is about 80+ miles long between Cuxhaven and Buxtehude via Bremerhaven and Bremervorde. The current LINT service turns around at the end and does not allow enough time to fully recharge at the electrical power typically available at these locations.

Batteries are seriously limited even for applications less demanding than NA diesel freight. 600 KWH would not allow these trains to run all day given the relatively high speeds (60 - 80 mph) and the needs for hotel loads (HVAC), especially in winter in Germany. Proterra buses as well as BYD suffer the same problem with hotel loads and being able to regularly complete daily shifts and it gets worse as the batteries age.



Buxtehude is only a few miles from Hamburg. Most of the traffic to Cuxhaven, Bremerhave, and Bremervorde probably originates at Hamburg or involves an interchange at Hamburg. The line from Buxtehude to Hamburg is electrified. Start the trains at Hamburg and charge the batteries from the overhead line during the trip from Hamburg to Buxtehude and run off the batteries the rest of the way to Cuxhaven. I suspect that there are a number of engineers that want to just use their engineering skills to use fuel cells despite the cost and problems of using hydrogen. Batteries are improving far faster than fuel cells.

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