Alstom is a French multinational company, today specialized in the transport sector, mainly railways. Alstom was born in 1928 from the merger of the Société alsacienne de constructions mécaniques (SCAM), a company specializing in the construction of locomotives, and the Compagnie française pour l’exploitation des procédés Thomson Houston (CFTH), a Franco-American company specializing in electric railway traction equipment.
Since then, Alstom has not stopped evolving through multiple mergers and acquisitions, notably until January 29, 2021 with the absorption of its Canadian competitor Bombardier Transportation, which gave birth to an industrial giant, number 2 in the railway industry.
Alstom in Motion :
The Alstom in Motion (AiM) plan unveiled in 2019, combined with a very strong trend towards hydrogen has clearly accelerated the group’s transition towards a sustainable proposition focused on green and smart mobility solutions. These expectations come from both customers and passengers, and are leading to a technological transformation of the market. Alstom has already positioned itself as an industrial reference in this field, with, for example, the first hydrogen train and solutions such as Hesop, which recovers braking energy from trains, and has identified six priority areas to strengthen its leadership:
– Clean traction and energy efficiency;
– Road electro-mobility; and
– Sustainable design and production;
– Autonomous trains;
– Data management for more connected products and services;
– Multimodality and flow management
To achieve this, Alstom will rely on sustained and constant R&D investments as a percentage of annual sales. Innovation is at the heart of Alstom’s entrepreneurial culture, with more than 6,500 patents filed to date and numerous key partnerships.
Alstom is also strengthening its development force through multiple acquisitions in the field of Hydrogen, notably with the purchase of Helion Hydrogen Power from Areva Energies renouvelables in April 2021, and more recently Plastic Omnium, a major player in hydrogen mobility.
Helion Hydrogen Power will become Alstom Hydrogène SAS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alstom. This acquisition confirms the French industrialist’s desire to establish itself in hydrogen. As a precursor with its Coradia iLInt trains – tested in several European countries and already ordered to enter service in Germany in 2022 and probably three years later -, Alstom is adding a brick to its competencies in hydrogen technology.
As for Plastic Omnium, it is a partnership via a memorandum of understanding, concerning the development of high-end hydrogen storage systems for the rail sector. As part of their collaboration, Alstom and Plastic Omnium will combine their complementary capabilities and know-how. A specific team has already been set up to ensure the technical and commercial development of innovative and competitive on-board hydrogen storage solutions for the rail market. At the end of the development phases already initiated, the two partners will be able to launch hydrogen storage solutions as early as 2022 for regional trains in France and Italy. These trains will be able to make direct trips on non-electrified lines without using fossil fuels, while meeting the challenges of sustainable development.
State and regions invest in bimodal green hydrogen TERs:
Jean-Baptiste Djebarri, Minister Delegate to the Minister of Ecological Transition, in charge of Transport, states that the French rail network “is 45% non-electrified. We have two solutions: either we electrify, with the cost that this implies, or we move towards […] hydrogen, which obviously has a future in France, and a European and global market to conquer”.
The Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region had already made official in March 2021 the order for three Alstom Coradia TERs for a total of 51.9 million euros. The trainsets are scheduled to be delivered from 2023 onwards, with commercial operation starting in 2024. Alstom is expected to deliver a dozen other bimodal (electricity and hydrogen) regional trains to SNCF, as the Grand Est, Occitanie and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions also want to equip themselves with these trainsets.
These trains could be operated on the electric lines already set up in the regional networks and take advantage of the €10 million envelope put on the table by the State to support the regions’ investment in the technology’s development costs. “By 2030, several hundred trains could be running in our regions,” Jean-Baptiste Djebbari ambitiously proposed.
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