Frankfurt: World’s largest hydrogen train fleet launched

Frankfurt: World's largest hydrogen train fleet launched

From 2022 regional trains between Frankfurt and Taunus will run on hydrogen instead of diesel.

Frankfurt – They are fueled at the Hoechst industrial park, serviced at the DB Regio maintenance workshop in Grisheim: signs point to the future. From the end of next year, 27 trains of the new Coradia iLINT vehicle type from Alstom on Taunus lines RB 11, RB 12, RB 15 and RB 16 will replace the previous diesel trains with zero emissions and hydrogen technology – this will be the largest hydrogen worldwide It has a train fleet and is the first in permanent regular operation. Yesterday a pre-series train was on its first flight to the repair shop’s “Glace 460 Ost”. “A center for the technology of the future is being built here,” said Oliver Terhag, production director at DB Reggio.

The hydrogen train filling station is in the Hoechst industrial park.

DB Regio, Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), Alstom and Infraserve Hoechst, as operators of the industrial park, are thus further developing hydrogen infrastructure in the Rhine-Main region. The groundbreaking ceremony for the hydrogen train filling station in the industrial park had already been scheduled for October; Alstom trains are to be delivered in the third quarter of 2022. Until then, however, it is still to be clarified who operates the trains. RMV managing director Nat Ringt said orders for the tender would be placed in the next few weeks – one of the applicants would be DB Regio. “The project is on time,” Ringat says happily. Alstom Austria’s managing director Jörg Nicutta agrees: “With the tender for hydrogen trains, the state of Hesse and RMV have laid the groundwork.”

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30 to 35 percent of all RMV routes are still used by diesel locomotives – because overhead lines are missing or structurally impossible. “In 2040, Deutsche Bahn wants to be climate neutral,” says Oliver Terhag. That means: no more diesel engines, no diesel buses either. Locomotives are being replaced with battery or hydrogen trains. Cordless trains are useful on routes where there are only small overhead line interruptions. Hydrogen technology is more advantageous over completely non-electrified routes. Because: With a hydrogen filling, trains can travel 1000 kilometers – even with air conditioning running in summer or flickering heating systems in winter. Top speed is 140 kilometers per hour, acceleration is a bit sportier – but, unlike the diesel, it’s quieter. Half of the fleet is refueled each day in the industrial park; Like a diesel locomotive, each refueling process takes about 15 minutes. In order for trains to get to the industrial park more easily, four new points will be established at the level of the former Hoechst freight yard.

New trains between Taunus and Frankfurt: hydrogen as a waste product

Hydrogen is a waste product; Of this, about seven tons are generated daily in the Hoechst Industrial Park. It is not “green” hydrogen, so it is not completely emission-free; Nor does it fall under the “gray” classification. But next to the gas station a five MW electrolyzer is being built to improve the environmental balance. The fact that the hydrogen then comes from multiple sources also improves the operational safety of the trains: if production, of which hydrogen is a waste product in the industrial park, stops, the trains can still keep running.

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Grisheim Workshop ensures that they employ approximately 220 workers 365 days a year to prepare an average of 60 vehicles for use in the Rhine-Main area where they roll. Eventually, hydrogen trains should last 25 years – with about 2.5 million fleet kilometers per year. The employees there are now being trained by Alstom associates. Since the iLINT is based on the diesel version, many maintenance steps – for example for the bogie or brake system – are the same regardless of drive. Work on fuel cells, tanks or larger batteries is new. To be able to maintain specific hydrogen components, a work area at the plant is being optimized.

The new Coradia iLINT hydrogen train with engine driver Timo Karl leaves Frankfurt Central Station in the morning.

© Hamerski

Hydrogen Train Taunus – Frankfurt: more space for passengers

The train is 45 meters long per unit, has 160 seats and has room for a total of 300 passengers. The four Taunus routes are mostly operated in dual traction, that is, with two coupled units. Current diesel trains have only 120 seats per unit – hence more capacity on commuter routes. Trains automatically switch between the fuel cell as the main power source and the buffer battery, in which excess energy – for example when braking – is stored. The train scans its route via GPS and knows when to deflect and when more energy is needed. For the driver in the driver’s cab, the change from diesel to hydrogen would be quite unexpected: the button “Start the Diesel Engine” would in the future be called “Start Energy System”.

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