Deutsche Bahn and Siemens Enter the hydrogen age

Joint project develops new regional train and special filling station – overall system for climate-friendly mobility to be tested for one year

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Berlin, 23 November 2020 – Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens Mobility are driving forward the climate-friendly turnaround in transport and are testing the use of hydrogen for rail for the first time. In concrete terms, the aim is to test a completely new overall system consisting of a newly developed train and a newly designed filling station. DB is converting one of its maintenance workshops so that the hydrogen train can be serviced there.

The system, consisting of a vehicle and the appropriate infrastructure, is intended to replace diesel multiple units in regional transport and greatly reduce CO2 emissions on the railways. A one-year trial run of the train is planned in the Tübingen area, supported by the Ministry of Transport in Baden-Württemberg. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has announced its intention to support the project.

The train that Siemens Mobility will build is based on the regional train Mireo Plus. It will be equipped as a two-part version with a newly developed hydrogen propulsion system. The Mireo Plus H is as powerful as electric multiple units and has a range of 600 kilometres.

Deutsche Bahn is developing a novel hydrogen filling station. This means that the train can be refuelled in the same time as a diesel train. The hydrogen is produced in Tübingen by DB Energie using green electricity. To be able to service the train, the DB plant in Ulm is being equipped accordingly.

During the trial operation between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim planned for 2024, the train will replace a diesel railcar running there. The hydrogen drive will save about 330 tonnes of CO2 in one year. In addition to the further electrification of the route network, the use of hydrogen trains is another way for DB to become climate neutral.

Prof. Sabina Jeschke, DB Board Member for Digitalisation and Technology: „With this project we are proving once again that Deutsche Bahn is not only a mobility but also a technology group. The fact that we will produce the hydrogen locally from green electricity and refuel the train as fast as a diesel train shows: The climate-friendly transport turnaround is possible. We must reduce the consumption of fossil fuels to zero. Only in this way can DB be climate-neutral in 2050. Then we will no longer operate a single vehicle with conventional diesel“.

Michael Peter, CEO of Siemens Mobility: „Siemens Mobility and Deutsche Bahn are jointly developing the next generation of the H2 traction system – a complete system consisting of hydrogen train and infrastructure, including a new, innovative rapid refuelling system in just 15 minutes. The train is characterised by a high drive power of 1.7 MW for up to 1.1 m/s² acceleration and a top speed of 160 km/h. This novel technology will make hydrogen-powered operational train services faster, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly. Hydrogen propulsion is an emission-free and advanced form of propulsion for trains, which enables the decarbonisation of rail transport and contributes significantly to achieving our climate goals“.

Winfried Hermann, Transport Minister of Baden-Württemberg: „I am pleased that the first train with this new and sustainable technology will be travelling here with us in Baden-Württemberg. Especially on non-electrified lines, hydrogen fuel cell propulsion can become a climate-friendly alternative to diesel propulsion. Whether powered by overhead line electricity or hydrogen – the decisive factor is that the energy comes from renewable sources. The country likes to be a pioneer for modern, sustainable rail transport. It is an essential part of the turnaround in transport“.

The facts about the project in detail:

Officially, the joint funding project is called „H2goesRail“. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has announced funding through the National Innovation Programme Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NIP 2). NIP 2 is coordinated by the National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW) GmbH and implemented by the Project Management Organisation Jülich.

Hydrogen propulsion

In hydrogen drives, the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen produces electrical energy and water as a „waste product“. The use of such trains is one way for DB to become climate-neutral and replace diesel vehicles with alternative types of propulsion. Green electricity is used to produce the environmentally friendly green hydrogen. DB Energie ensures the supply.

Mireo Plus H

Siemens is developing a two-car regional train with a latest-generation hydrogen drive system for a one-year trial run. It consists of a fuel cell and a lithium-ion battery. The Mireo Plus H will be as powerful as electric multiple-unit trains and have a range of 600 kilometres – depending on operating conditions such as the season or the route. A three-car version will have a range of 1000 kilometres. Low life-cycle costs due to low maintenance and repair costs and a top speed of 160 kilometres per hour are the vehicle’s distinguishing features.

Petrol station

The hydrogen is produced by electrolysis in a mobile filling station operated by DB Energie at the DB Regio plant in Tübingen. In the so-called electrolyser, water is split into hydrogen and oxygen with the aid of electricity. Compressed in a compressor, the hydrogen is stored in a mobile storage unit. Before the refuelling process, the green fuel is processed and cooled in the tank trailer next to it. The mobile structure makes further test projects possible. DB Energie develops, tests and optimises the necessary hydrogen infrastructure.

Quick refuelling

The train is refuelled with hydrogen in a new type of procedure: for the first time, this takes no longer than 15 minutes, which is the same as refuelling a diesel train. This is an important aspect in view of the closely timed train sequences in DB regional transport. This makes hydrogen technology competitive with the diesel fuel used so far in everyday operation.

Maintenance

DB Regio’s workshop in Ulm will be converted for the maintenance of hydrogen multiple units. The maintenance of the hydrogen train can then be carried out there by extensively trained DB Regio employees with support from Siemens Mobility employees.

Trial operation

The train will be in trial operation between Tübingen, Horb and Pforzheim for one year in 2024. It is planned to cover some 120,000 kilometres of scheduled railway operations. The route is particularly suitable because of the exemplary timing of the timetable for regional transport and the varied topography. The Mireo Plus H from Siemens will replace a diesel railcar commonly used on this route and save about 330 tons of CO2. The train drivers will be specially trained for the vehicle and will then drive it in trial operation.

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