In March 2021, the Bourgogne Franche-Comté region officially ordered the first three hydrogen trains.
Already implemented in Germany, these first hydrogen-powered trains are scheduled to enter service in France in 2024.
Since 2018, hydrogen-powered trains have been running on the German rail network. In Italy, hydrogen-powered trains will operate by 2023. In France, on the other hand, the hydrogen rail sector is lagging behind. However, following recent announcements, France will catch up in this industry and will introduce the first 3 hydrogen trains on its network in 2024, with tests planned from 2023.
The Bourgogne Franche-Comté region will be the pioneer of the hydrogen rail industry in France. On March 5, 2021, the region officialized the order of the first 3 hydrogen trains. These are part of a grouped order of 14 hydrogen trains ordered to Alstom by four Regions: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Grand-Est and Occitanie. Total cost of the contract for these first 3 trains: €51.9 million.
These trains will be dual-mode electric-hydrogen. They will benefit from a combined configuration of battery storage and hydrogen tanks. Overall, the autonomy of these hydrogen trains will range from 400 to 600 kilometers and they will be able to reach 160 km/h, with a capacity of 220 passengers. This dual-mode configuration will also allow these trains to run on conventional power lines with catenaries.
The Bourgogne Franche-Comté region is therefore positioning itself as a pioneer of hydrogen rail in France and has a roadmap of €100 million to support several projects carried out in its territory.
These trains, supplied by the French group Alstom, will be assembled in Alsace, and will be equipped with parts such as the engine, bogies and hydrogen traction chain designed and built entirely in France.
The railway industry, an industry to decarbonize:
These hydrogen trains will replace the old diesel TER trains used on the non-electrified parts of the French rail network. In France, the non-electrified part of the network represents 50% of the lines. As a result, many aging and polluting diesel locomotives are running on it. According to estimates, global rail transport emits 130 mega tons of CO2 equivalent every year.
Hydrogen rail thus provides a solution to replace these diesel locomotives and contribute to the decarbonization of the rail industry. In France, 450 of these locomotives should be replaced by 2030. The French hydrogen railway industry is therefore only at its beginnings!
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