Alstom’s iLint fuel-cell powered train, seen in public at InnoTrans last September (issue 145, November 2016) has now started its test programme at the company’s Salzgitter plant.

These tests will make sure that the drive train – fuel cell, traction motors, battery and brakes – are all working in harmony before the train goes off to the Velim test track in the Czech Republic for testing at speeds of up to 140km/h.

To support the current tests, a mobile filling station has been set up in Salzgitter to pump gaseous hydrogen into the train’s pressure tank. The hydrogen being used for the test runs is an industrial by-product of an industrial process, so a waste product which is being ‘recycled’. In the long term, Alstom aims to generate the hydrogen using wind energy.

The new Coradia iLint will undertake its first passenger services runs on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven (Germany) route early in 2018.

In a separate development, Fuel Cell Systems, working with the University of Birmingham and Hitachi Rail Europe, has completed a six- month study for the UK rail industry, which shows that hydrogen fuel cell technology can be successfully retro-fitted to extend the life of existing rolling stock.

Funded by RSSB and Network Rail, the project demonstrated that the use of fuel cell technology could reduce journey times, eliminate emissions at the point of use and improve passenger comfort through smooth and rapid acceleration and minimal noise and vibration.