CZ/SK verze

Are Hydrogen Trains Our Future or Just a Wasted Investment?

Are Hydrogen Trains Our Future or Just a Wasted Investment?
photo: Linus Follert / Flickr/World's First Hydrogen Train
29 / 01 / 2024

The world has increasingly shown interest in transitioning to cleaner transportation for the future. A new project called Concept presents the results of replacing diesel propulsion with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.

Where are hydrogen fuel cells, and how do they work?

These cells are located on top of the train. The operation is straightforward: it involves a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, producing only pure water vapor and electricity. This electricity is transferred to batteries that power the train set. The Railway Company Slovakia (ZSSK) is interested in transitioning to more environmentally friendly types of propulsion. For the transition to hydrogen to work effectively, thorough preparations are needed, including the procurement of trains, and the preparation and change of legislation, internal directives, and technical background.

The national carrier acknowledges the urgent need for a shift to more environmentally friendly propulsion systems. ZSSK states that choosing the right drive is crucial for a successful green transformation. During the measurement exercise, ZSSK staff investigated possible diesel powertrain substitutes, resulting in a database of relevant data. The project also focused on legislative requirements, examining the structure of regulations at both international and national levels. Internal directives, regulations, and rules currently in force were also addressed.

mwmbwls / Flickr

Implementing operating conditions for hydrogen refueling stations will be a key component. To ensure safety and feasibility, it's essential to use proper refueling equipment that meets all standards and technical norms. The national carrier recognizes that transitioning from diesel to green propulsion will be challenging, especially considering the volume of work required. However, the theoretical preparatory phases have already been completed, paving the way for the next steps in the green transformation and the reduction of emissions.

The project has been financed by the European Regional Development Fund, with eligible expenditure amounting to almost EUR 1,613,000. ZSSK has earmarked EUR 706,503 for implementing the activities.

Hydrogen Trains in the World

After a year, the first hydrogen train line in Germany has ended its operation. The reason cited was the high cost of operating such trains. They were replaced by battery trains and trains with overhead contact lines. The German public transport company LNVG, owned by the government of Lower Saxony, found that hydrogen trains are up to 80% more expensive to operate than electric trains, according to a survey.