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Hessen is planning the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell trains

In the Hessen of the future, you will travel cleanly, silently and efficiently: Starting in 2022/2023, four regional railroad tracks near Frankfurt will be used by trains powered by fuel cells. 

© Alstom - Michael Wittwer

The Rhine-Main regional transport association RMV has ordered a fleet of 27 trains – the largest of its kind in the world! RMV CEO Knut Ringat calls the project a “giant step towards non-polluting mobility” because no climate-damaging emissions are produced while the trains are running. In a fuel cell, hydrogen reacts in a controlled reaction with oxygen, thereby providing the current for the electric engine. The process generates power, heat and the waste product water vapor. Two heavy batteries additionally store the brake energy and excess current from the cell. The plan for the operation in Hessen is to use hydrogen which accumulates in the Hoechst industrial park as by-product of chemical processes.

Commuters also benefit from extra space in the trains and a considerably smoother ride because the vehicles’ engine noise is quieter due to the electric traction. This is also an advantage for the residents living beside the tracks. All the new 27 fuel cell trains will additionally be equipped with extensive passenger information systems like monitors with real time information, have space for bicycles, wheelchairs and strollers, and offer passengers free Wi-Fi during the trip. Tarek Al-Wazir, the Hessian Minister of Economics, Energy, Transportation and Housing, is convinced that trains running with fuel cells are a quickly implemented alternative to the electrification of the branch lines.

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