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Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train
Photograph: Alstom

The world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger trains have launched in Germany

The new Coradia iLint trains in Lower Saxony show how train travel can be made even more eco-friendly

Ed Cunningham
Written by
Ed Cunningham

Trains are already one of the greenest ways to travel. Even those that run on diesel are much better for the environment than planes and cars. And when they’re fully electric – or, better yet, run on renewable electricity – there really is no more environmentally-friendly way to get around.

But now trains could be getting even more eco-friendly. Germany has just launched the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger trains, which release absolutely zero emissions. All that comes out of the exhaust is steam and condensed water. Pretty freaking cool, right?

The train model is called the Coradia iLint and it’s now in service on a line in Lower Saxony. Five of the trains are already running, though there’ll eventually be 14 on the route. Built by French rail manufacturer Alstom, in all the project cost €93 million (£78.5 million, $93 million).

Hydrogen rail is so exciting because it doesn’t necessarily require trainlines to be electrified. ‘Hydrail’ locomotives (as they’re called by those in-the-know) can work on existing lines, which means that, in theory, they can be implemented on pretty much any train track in the world.

And the Coradia iLint isn’t just zero-emission. It’s also much quieter than diesel trains and has an impressive range and top speed. Reaching 140 kilometres per hour and having the potential to run for a whopping 1,000 kilometres on one tank, the iLints are more than up to the job of running a regional rail service.

So if you fancy having a ride on one of these cutting-edge pieces of train tech, head on down to Lower Saxony! Coradia iLint trains will be found servicing the towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervörde and Buxtehude – all of which are to the north of Bremen and east of Hamburg.

You can find out more about the Coradia iLint trains and how they work here

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