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Hydrogen-powered trains for Heidekrautbahn

Hydrogen-powered trains for Heidekrautbahn
photo: Railway Gazette international, picture archive/Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has approved a €25 million investment in a project to introduce hydrogen fuel cell trains in Brandenburg.
11 / 05 / 2021

Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer has approved a €25 million investment in a project to introduce hydrogen fuel cell trains in Brandenburg.

Announcing the newly created grant at Basdorf station on Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn on May 3, Scheuer said it would be "a huge step towards climate-neutral rail travel."

Approximately EUR 9 million will be allocated to Niederbarminer Eisenbahn for the acquisition of six hydrogen fuel cell trains to be put into regular service from December 2024. They will operate on the Heidekrautbahn NE RB27 route from Berlin Gesundbrunnen and Berlin-Karow to Basdorf, Klosterfelde and Groß Schönebeck and on the turn-off line from Basdorf to Wensickendorf and Schmachtenhagen. Hydrogen trains will replace the minority fleet of Talent diesel engines.

Energy company Enertrag will receive around EUR 13 million in the cost of electrolysis, which will use electricity from wind turbines to produce hydrogen. A further €2. 5 million will go to kreiswerke barnim district office to pay for the hydrogen refill site and related infrastructure.

The hydrogen-powered fleet will also be used on the 13,9 km single-track central section of the Heidekrautbahn between Berlin-Wilhelmsruh, Schönwalde and Basdorf, which is planned again after its abandonment following the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. This will provide direct access to the city with medium-term connectivity of trains continuing behind Wilhelmsruh to Gesundbrunnen. Part of the line is used by irregular freight trains and occasional cruise trains by steam traction.

Work to restore the main section of scheduled passenger services at a cost of EUR 30 million started on 11 December 2020. The project includes the reopening or construction of eight stations, line repositioning for 80 km/h operation and the modernization of several level crossings.

NE board member Detlef Bröcker said the use of hydrogen-powered trains would reduce noise and CO2 emissions and "make public transport more attractive to commuting and tourism, and promote the expansion of environmental mobility in the region."

Local transport planners expect hydrogen trains to launch other hydrogen-related projects, which will include the use of gas as fuel for buses and other commercial vehicles.

The project is linked as research partners to the Brandenburg Technical University in Cottbus-Senftenberg and the DLR Research Centre for the Aerospace Industry.



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