Alstom Concludes Demonstration of Coradia iLint

Written by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
Image Courtesy of Alstom

Image Courtesy of Alstom

Alstom announced on Oct. 10 that it has concluded the "successful demonstration" of the Coradia iLint, which carried more than 10,000 passengers, over 130 trips, spanning 10,660 kilometers (6,623 miles) in Quebec this summer from mid-June to the end of September.

According to Alstom, the demonstration of the hydrogen-powered trains, “saved its railway partner an estimated 8,400 liters of diesel and averted 22 tons of CO2 emissions compared to the diesel trains that normally service this route.” Alstom and its partners welcomed 34 commercial, governmental and regulatory delegations from all over North America looking to witness this hydrogen-propulsion technology and capture the requirements for wider implementation across North America.

This summer, we demonstrated that hydrogen trains can be an attractive, safe and viable alternative to diesel on non-electrified lines and that we can do it right here in North America,” said Michael Keroullé, President of Alstom in the Americas. “Alstom has clearly taken the lead in supporting rail operators and authorities in their environmental transformation, thanks to its unmatched portfolio of green solutions and its ability to bring together the best players in the industry.”

According to Alstom, which is partnering with the Hydrogen Research Institute of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières to analyze the results of the demonstration project and will issue a final report for public authorities in early 2024, there have been several takeaways from this demonstration:

  • “Hydrogen-powered trains are safe and reliable—if a robust hydrogen ecosystem is available to provide fuel.
  • “Hydrogen-powered mobility requires an agile and reliable hydrogen fuel production and distribution system. North America is taking the first steps towards building this kind of hydrogen ecosystem. Continued investment and commitment will be needed to scale.
  • “To unlock the benefits of hydrogen-powered trains, North American decision-makers will need to adapt regulatory standards that were created before hydrogen was conceived for this purpose.
  • “As this ecosystem matures, it will create new jobs requiring new skillsets around the operation and maintenance of a hydrogen fuel.”

According to Alstom, only 1% of the North American rail network is electrified today. “To decarbonize the rail sector in time to meet national, provincial and state-level climate goals, there must be significant investments in track electrification along with the adoption of alternative green traction solutions, including battery-powered and hydrogen-powered trains,” the company said.

“Alstom conducted this first-time-in-America demonstration as a proof of concept in real operating conditions for hydrogen trains, which bring multiple benefits, including no carbon emissions from the propulsion system, quieter operations, and a greater operational autonomy before refueling than battery-powered trains,” Alstom added.

The demonstration project was made possible thanks to a partnership between Alstom, which supplied and maintained the trains; Train de Charlevoix/Réseau Charlevoix, who made their teams and tracks available; Harnois Énergies, which provided the right amount of green hydrogen at the expected pressure; HTEC, which implemented the mobile hydrogen charging solution; and Accelera by Cummins, which supplied and maintained the fuel cell during the pilot. The project was also authorized and supported by the Government of Quebec.

Alstom’s Coradia iLint is the world’s first hydrogen passenger train. It has traveled more than 220,000 kilometers (1,3670 miles) in eight European countries since it started commercial service in 2018. The train is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) that emits only water during operation while ensuring a quieter environment for passengers and those close to tracks. With the demonstration project in Quebec, the hydrogen train, Alstom says, “proves that it is a viable alternative to diesel on non-electrified lines with low density over long distances for clean, safe and sustainable operation.”

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