NEW HYDROGEN TRAIN

Sitting on the platform at Spandau station in the suburbs of Berlin, it looks much the same as every other one.
But do not be fooled, for this train, manufactured by French group Alstom, is very special indeed. It runs not on electricity or diesel but on what many think is the fuel of the future: hydrogen.
Indeed, the train is something of a record-breaker, having travelled more than a thousand kilometres on a single tank of hydrogen only a few weeks earlier. To travel on, though, it feels just like any other regional locomotive.

There is no engine noise, no whiff of diesel fumes as it pulls away. Indeed, it feels a lot like one of the countless other electric trains you find around Europe.

Which begs the question: what is the point of a hydrogen train?

The short answer is that not every part of the rail network is electrified. In Germany, about 40% of the tracks aren’t connected to power; in the UK the proportion is even higher: around 60%.

At the moment trains running on those lines tend to use diesel power, which of course means carbon emissions. And since connecting those tracks to electricity would be fiendishly expensive, hydrogen is seen as one of the most compelling options to eliminate emissions from rail transport.

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