Hydrogen Train Adoption Gaining Steam with Saudi Arabia’s 1st Trial

Hydrogen Train Adoption Gaining Steam with Saudi Arabia’s 1st Trial

October 13, 2023 0 By Jake Martin

The company has been focused on enhancing and expanding its carbon emission-free travel.

The Saudi Arabian Minister for Energy, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman recently announced the kingdom’s intention to start a trial run of the first hydrogen train in the Middle East.

The trial will start for a week but is expected to continue for a few months to truly test the technology.

According to a Reuters report, the hydrogen train will be the first to run in the Middle East.

“It will be on trial for next week, hopefully for the next few months,” said bin Salman during the UN MENA Climate Week in Riyadh. “We will have the first hydrogen train in the Middle East.”

The locomotive will be powered by electricity generated onboard using an H2 fuel cell propulsion system. The locomotive will not produce any emissions as a result of its operations, meaning that it could become a more environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could also help the country to reach its climate goals.

H2-powered locomotives tested in other parts of the world have shown that they are able to achieve similar performance levels and speeds to electric and diesel-powered counterparts.

The range of a hydrogen train depends on the size and number of the H2 tanks onboard.

That said, refueling can be achieved at about the same speed as refueling diesel tanks, so unlike battery-electric technology, recharging doesn’t require any extra time than is already required from current railway tech.

Hydrogen train - Saudi Arabian Flag and train tracks

Therefore, with comparable performance, speed, range and refueling time, these locomotives offer a similar experience but with the advantage of emitting only water vapor as their exhaust. In this way, Saudi Arabia is seeking to lean on the technology as a part of the decarbonization of its transportation sector.

Refueling network

hydrogen news ebookBefore a hydrogen train system can be adopted in any greater capacity than this test, however, Saudi Arabia would need to install a refueling infrastructure.

That said, trialing the vehicle for the first time is being viewed as a first step in determining whether this investment will be feasible and worthwhile, which it is expected to be.

In other recent news, Italy is making significant strides in adopting hydrogen technology for its railway system as well.

Alstom and FNM have unveiled Italy’s first hydrogen train, the Coradia Stream H, marking a new era in passenger rail transport. This train is expected to enter commercial service by the end of next year. The Coradia Stream H is part of the H2iseO Hydrogen Valley project, aiming to meet the European target of lowering carbon dioxide emissions by 100% by 2050. It has been designed with hydrogen fuel cells, boasting 260 seats and a range of over 600 km. The plan is for the train to begin commercial service in Valcamonica between the end of 2024 and the start of 2025. The H2iseO project also includes the construction of three plants for renewable hydrogen production, storage and distribution in Brescia, Iseo and Edolo, and the commissioning of 40 hydrogen buses. This progress in Italy comes as Saudi Arabia also takes steps toward hydrogen-powered transportation, announcing a trial run of the first hydrogen train in the Middle East.

More About Hydrogen Trains

In Conclusion,

Saudi Arabia’s trial run of the first hydrogen train in the Middle East, Italy’s Coradia Stream H, and the successful demonstration of Alstom’s hydrogen-powered train in service in Quebec, North America, all highlight a global move towards eco-friendly transportation. Despite challenges like the need for substantial refueling infrastructure, the benefits – such as performance on par with conventional trains, zero emissions, and sustainability – make this technological shift promising.

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