BERLIN (AP) — German officials on Wednesday launched what they say is the world’s first fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trains, replacing 15 diesel trains that previously operated on non-electrified tracks in the state of Lower Saxony.
The 14 trains use hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity which powers the motors. The German government has supported the expansion of the use of hydrogen as a clean alternative to fossil fuels.
State Governor Stephan Weil said the 93 million euro ($92 million) project was a “great example” of Lower Saxony’s efforts to green its economy.
Trains manufactured by the French company Alstom are operated by the regional railway company LNVG on routes between the northern towns of Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude.
Alstom says the Coradia iLint trains have a range of up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) and a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph). By using hydrogen produced with renewable energy, the trains will save 1.6 million liters (over 422,000 gallons) of diesel fuel per year.
Hydrogen is currently produced as a by-product of chemical processes, but German specialty gas company Linde plans to manufacture it locally using only renewable energy within three years.