Germany is becoming the first country in the world to start operating a fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trains that emit only steam and water. It has ordered 14 trains developed from the French company Alstom and after an approval procedure will put them to use on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven route in December 2017.
The Coradia iLint is the first train to be produced in large quantities, travel long distances (600-800 km on a tankful), and be powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell. An additional perk is it being almost noise-free.
The fuel cell is supplied with hydrogen, which combined with ambient air produces the electric energy needed to power the train. Flexible energy storage is provided by Lithium-ion batteries that accumulate the energy and supply it when needed with the help of an intelligent energy management system.
Alstom promises to provide the necessary hydrogen supply infrastructure on the routes, making it easy for further investments in hydrogen trains. Moreover, the company acquires the hydrogen from chemical plants in which the element is produced as a waste product. This makes the trains truly emission-free: from the generation of electricity to the operation.
Netherlands, Denmark and Norway have also expressed interest in the trains.