Hydrogen-powered trains play a huge role in achieving a post-carbon future for transportation worldwide by making our travel habits greener. In Europe, this green railway revolution is set to begin sooner than anticipated.
Germany, for instance, is expected to become home to the first hydrogen-powered trains developed by Alstom SA, the world’s second-biggest rail equipment supplier — marking an important milestone for the rollout of the technology in Europe. Following a lengthy trial period on a 76-mile track in Lower Saxony, Germany, commercial operations are set to begin next March.
Other countries like France and Italy are also eyeing hydrogen-powered trains as an alternative to carbon-emitting diesel engines, and have already signed contracts with Alstom to put the technology on their railways in the coming years.
Alstom’s rival Siemens AG is also developing hydrogen trains and the European market is estimated to grow to tens of billions of dollars this decade as emissions rules get tougher. These projections come as EU lawmakers reached a deal last week to make the bloc’s ambitious climate goals legally binding.
These new rules are expected to drive a surge in demand for hydrogen-powered trains, with analysts estimating that by 2050, the sector could be worth between $24 billion and $48 billion. What’s more, European countries are already giving out subsidies to companies developing battery and hydrogen technology for vehicles — a move expected to extend to the railway industry too to replace environmentally unfriendly diesel engines.