Lower Saxony has made a dramatic announcement: they will switch their hydrogen-fuel-cell train program instead of battery electric trains. LNVG found that battery electric trains were less costly to operate and maintain than hydrogen trains.
LNVG has been conducting tests of hydrogen fuel-cell trains since 2018, placing 14 into passenger service in Lower Saxony last year. Unfortunately, however, the authority found that they were more expensive to refuel than battery electric trains and had shorter ranges.
However, hydrogen trains require a separate hydrogen refuelling infrastructure that adds significantly to their cost; battery electric trains can instead be charged using existing overhead wires or charging stations.
LNVG’s decision to abandon hydrogen trains may be seen as a setback for the hydrogen fuel cell industry; however, this move indicates that battery electric trains have become more viable as an emission-free transportation solution.
The authority estimates that battery electric trains could save it EUR1.5 million per year in operating costs, according to estimates provided by Alstom, who manufacture the hydrogen fuel-cell trains used by this authority. The first battery electric trains should arrive by 2029.
LNVG plans to retire all its diesel trains by 2037. This decision by LNVG marks a monumental change and likely be followed by other European transport authorities – it shows how battery electric trains have quickly become the top option for zero-emission transportation.