The Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund, the public-transport service in the Frankfurt region, currently still operates 30–35% of all routes with diesel locomotives because overhead power is not available or feasible for them. However, Deutsche Bahn is seeking to become carbon-neutral by 2040. This means that diesel locomotives and diesel buses are to become a thing of the past. When it comes to making rail transport as carbon-neutral as possible, the state of Hesse has given the green light. Starting late next year, 27 of Alstom’s new Coradia iLint trains will be navigating the RB 11, RB 12, RB 15 and RB 16 routes in the Taunus mountain range. Featuring hydrogen technology, the trains will produce zero emissions and are to replace the existing diesel ones. At the time of entering service, the hydrogen train fleet will be the largest fleet worldwide and the first in regular operation.
The Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train to be operated with a hydrogen fuel cell that generates electrical energy to drive the train. The zero-emissions train is low on noise and only emits water vapour and condensation. The trains will have a range of 1,000 km on a tank of hydrogen, even when the air conditioning or heating is running, and they have a top speed of 140 km/h. The trains will be refuelled at Industriepark Höchst and maintained at the DB Regio workshop in Griesheim. The plans see each half of the fleet being refuelled on alternating days, with a refuelling time of about 15 minutes – similar to that of a diesel locomotive.
Accordingly, DB Regio, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), Alstom and Infraserv Höchst – the industrial park’s operator – are enhancing the hydrogen infrastructure in the Rhine-Main region. The opening ceremony for the hydrogen refuelling station at the industrial park has already taken place, with the Alstom trains scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2022. In the meantime, a decision still has to be made about who will operate the trains. RMV Managing Director Knut Ringat said that the contract will be put out to tender in the next few weeks and that one of the bidders will be DB Regio.
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