World’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains

The world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains will be built in Lower Saxony’s Bremervoerde, starting in September.

Representatives of the state and the companies involved met on site for a symbolic ground-breaking ceremony. An eighteen-month test phase for the first two trains was successfully completed at the end of February. The mobility project, which has attracted worldwide attention, is now entering its next phase.

The gases and engineering company Linde will build and operate the hydrogen filling station near Bremervoerde station on behalf of the Lower Saxony Regional Transport Company (LNVG).

Other project partners are the rail vehicle manufacturer Alstom, the state of Lower Saxony and the Elbe-Weser Railways and Transport Company (EVB).

After completion expected in mid-2021, the hydrogen filling station will replace the existing mobile filling solution. With a capacity of around 1,600 kg of hydrogen per day, it is nominally one of the largest hydrogen filling stations in the world.

From the beginning of 2022, 14 hydrogen-powered regional trains supplied by Alstom will be refuelled there daily and around the clock if necessary. Thanks to a range of 1,000 kilometres, the multiple-unit trains will be able to run emission-free all day long on the EVB network with just one tank filling.

Expansion areas at the filling station will allow hydrogen to be produced on site later using electrolysis and regenerative electricity.

“The ground-breaking ceremony for this world’s first hydrogen filling station for passenger trains is an important step for a showcase project from Lower Saxony,” said Carmen Schwabl, Managing Director of LNVG. The initiative to test the gas as a fuel in local rail passenger transport came from LNVG.

“We are delighted to play a key role in this world-leading, innovative project,” said Mathias Kranz, responsible at Linde for the onsite and bulk business in Germany. “Linde has long been committed to hydrogen, which can make a significant contribution to decarbonisation.

Introduction of hydrogen as a fuel for trains will significantly reduce the burden on the environment, as one kilogram of hydrogen replaces approximately 4.5 litres of diesel fuel.”

“The construction of the hydrogen filling station in Bremervoerde will create the basis for the series operation of our emission-free hydrogen trains in the Weser-Elbe network. We really appreciate that Linde, as an experienced hydrogen supplier, is now also taking over the refuelling of the series trains following the successful trial operation,” commented Jörg Nikutta, Managing Director Germany and Austria of Alstom.

“We are proud that we were the first railway company in the world with permission to operate fuel cell trains on the Weser-Elbe network. Our passengers were very curious about the trains and their technology from the very beginning. In addition to the very low noise level, the hydrogen train impresses with its zero emissions, especially in times of climate change. For our train drivers, the operation of iLint was a very special motivation,” said Andreas Wagner, head of the SPNV division and authorized signatory of the Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb).

The project is subsidized by the national innovation programme for hydrogen and fuel cell technology of the Federal Ministry of Transport, and Digital Infrastructure NOW GmbH will coordinate the funding guideline and Project Management Jülich (PtJ) is responsible for the implementation.