Germany suspended funding of all new Hydrogen-based Train projects | Urban Transport News

Germany suspended funding of all new Hydrogen-based Train projects | Urban Transport News

Berlin, Germany (Urban Transport News): Germany’s Federal Ministry of Digital Infrastructure and Transport (BMDV) has decided to suspend funding for all new hydrogen-based projects amid an ongoing investigation into potential corruption cases related to the allocation of funding for specific projects. The move involves the reassignment of some senior officials within the ministry while internal investigations proceed.

The practical impact of this funding suspension remains uncertain, given that, apart from the initial three hydrogen train fleets, there have been no new orders or proposals for hydrogen-powered passenger trains in Germany. Several German state transport authorities, including Lower Saxony, an early adopter, have expressed their lack of intention to pursue hydrogen-based rail projects.

The introduction and operation of the initial two fleets of Alstom iLint train in Lower Saxony and Hesse faced challenges such as late train deliveries and poor reliability in cold weather conditions. These projects received substantial federal subsidies when ordered between 2017 and 2021. The third project, involving the deployment of Siemens Mireo+H trains in Berlin-Brandenburg in December, was also supported by federal subsidies.

Procurement of hydrogen-powered trains in other European countries is similarly limited, as capital and running costs for battery electric multiple units (BEMU) or conventional electric multiple units (EMU) trains are currently more economical. Alstom conducted demonstration operations of its iLint prototypes in Canada and Saudi Arabia in 2023 but has not announced any orders outside Europe.

Despite the pause in hydrogen funding, the German federal budget for 2024 includes an increased level of support for alternative rail traction of all types, with €88.8 million available, representing a €23.8 million increase compared to 2023. The majority of these funds will support the introduction of multiple BEMU fleets across Germany, specifically focusing on the installation of electrification islands to provide overhead power for BEMU recharging on otherwise unelectrified routes.

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