Pilot hydrogen train
In March 2020, the Province of Groningen, Arriva, ProRail, Alstom and Engie carried out a pilot involving driving a hydrogen train. This was the first time that a train ran on hydrogen in the Netherlands. With this pilot, the five organizations involved wanted to gather more practical experience. The province and the parties involved aim to have the trains run in the Northern Netherlands with zero emissions (without environmentally harmful emissions). The hydrogen train is a good option to meet this requirement, without having to make major investments in overhead lines.
Testing the timetable and hydrogen refueling
The performance of Alstom’s hydrogen train ‘Coradia iLint’ was tested on the track between Groningen and Leeuwarden. The tests with the hydrogen train were carried out at night. The train was running without passengers. The stop and express train timetable was tested several times. Refueling with hydrogen was also tested within a timetable. How does this work and how does this affect the times of the current timetable? Finally, it was investigated what is required to obtain permission to run a hydrogen train on the railways in the Northern Netherlands in the regular timetable.
Results first pilot
These first test runs have proven that there are zero-emission trains that can already run in the Northern Netherlands. During the tests, the train ran according to the timetable. Fuel consumption, acceleration and braking went without any problems. Refueling with (green) hydrogen went faster than expected and can be carried out safely. A hydrogen train also turned out to be almost 50% quieter than the current diesel train. For travelers and local residents, the hydrogen trains are a cleaner and quieter way of public transport. The conclusion is that the hydrogen train can be a fully-fledged alternative to the current diesel trains.
View the reports with the results of the first pilot at the bottom of this page.
The future of hydrogen trains in the Northern Netherlands
At the end of 2022, the Province started a tender for the first four hydrogen trains. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management made 15 million euros available as a contribution to the costs of four hydrogen trains. With this, the government shows that it considers it important to invest in making public transport on its railway lines more sustainable. In addition to the national government contribution for the four trains, the Groningen National Program (NPG) contributes 7 million euros. The national government has also granted a contribution of 5 million euros for a hydrogen refueling installation.
By January 2024, no bids had been received in the tender for the first four hydrogen trains. This is partly due to the customization in combination with the small size of the assignment. However, the Province of Groningen remains committed to further making passenger transport by rail more sustainable. The Province will now investigate whether a lease construction with existing hydrogen trains is possible.
The results of the first pilot can be found in the attached reports.
Photo taken by Stefan Verkerk – ProRail
This project was made possible in part thanks to a contribution from the EU project G-PaTRA (Interreg).