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Ballard to power Talgo fuel cell passenger train in trials ahead of planned 2023 launch

Ballard Power Systems will supply eight of its 70 kW FCmove-HD fuel cell modules to Talgo S.A.—a leader in the design, manufacture, and maintenance of high-speed light-rail trains, headquartered in Madrid, Spain—for trials of its Talgo Vittal-One commuter and regional passenger train. Talgo plans to conduct its demonstration in early 2022 in Spain, with expected commercialization in 2023.

Green hydrogen is no longer the future, it is a reality. The implementation of hydrogen trains, such as the one Talgo is developing, will improve mobility and have a positive impact on the environment by replacing diesel technology. It will allow us to make the most of the non-electrified railways in many countries, while reducing the carbon footprint.

The announcement earlier this year of EU policies to accelerate decarbonization further validate this key step in early adoption of hydrogen trains in order to achieve these greenhouse gas reduction goals.

—Emilio Garcia, Talgo Innovation Director

The modular system being designed by Talgo is intended for installation on all types of passenger trains, as well as in upgrades or retrofits from diesel to hydrogen power.

The system utilizes hydrogen and fuel cells for propulsion, complemented by batteries that assist the train from a standing start and take advantage of the braking system for recharging.

Unlike the extended battery systems in the automotive industry, hydrogen technology is the logical answer to the needs of heavy transport and, in particular, of those railway lines that do not have catenary electrification systems, and which today depend on trains powered by diesel engines, Talgo says.

The hydrogen system designed by Talgo enables conventional network lines to be “electrified” without the need for costly and lengthy adaptation operations, and without the use of fossil fuels.

Talgo’s Vittal train is designed to provide medium-speed and high-frequency services on Suburban and Regional lines. The Vittal-One is the hydrogen version (so named in reference to the place of hydrogen in the periodic table).

In July 2021, Talgo and Repsol announced they would promote renewable hydrogen-powered trains; Repsol, currently the leading hydrogen producer in Spain, will use its logistics infrastructure to supply renewable hydrogen to the railway network.

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