SNCF places an order with Alstom for the first French hydrogen trains

SNCF places an order with Alstom for the first French hydrogen trains
SNCF places an order with Alstom for the first French hydrogen trains

SNCF has placed an order with Alstom, on behalf of the regions Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Great East and Occitanie, of the first 12 French hydrogen trains, the first tests of which are announced at the end of 2023.

These dual-mode trains, capable of running under catenaries in electric traction and in hydrogen mode, will have a range of up to 600 km on non-electrified lines, without polluting, stakeholders said Thursday in a press release.

Read also: The hydrogen train will be well tested on the Lyon-Clermont Ferrand line

Alstom France President Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud is planning “the first track tests at the end of 2023, and a priori commercial commissioning in 2025”.

Read also: The hydrogen train will be tested near Toulouse

Three trains for each of the four initiating regions

The contract for Alstom amounts to 190 million euros for 12 trainsets. It provides for the supply of three trains to each of the four pioneer regions, to which two could be added as an option for the Grand Est.

Read also: “By privatizing the TER, we will save between 15% and 30% compared to the SNCF” Jean Rottner, president of the Grand-Est region

Alstom will concretely install a hydrogen power train on a model proven in French TER (called Coradia Polyvalent by the national manufacturer and Regiolis by the SNCF): 72 meters long, these four-car trains will offer 218 seats “and same dynamic performance and comfort as the dual-mode electric-diesel version “, according to the press release.

The regions – which finance the trains – are taking advantage of a framework contract that has existed since 2011 to purchase trainsets, via the SNCF.

Alstom, a pioneer in hydrogen traction

Alstom is a pioneer in the hydrogen train, with technology developed at its Tarbes plant. He circulated his first prototypes in Germany in 2018 and has now entered an industrial phase, with 41 orders to date.

Read also: Ending diesel locomotives: Alstom launches the world’s first hydrogen train

These trains mix the hydrogen on board and the oxygen present in the ambient air, thanks to a fuel cell installed in the roof which produces the electricity necessary for the traction of the train. They only release water vapor.

“This is an additional step towards + zero emissions + in public rail transport”, noted Christophe Fanichet, CEO of SNCF Voyageurs.

Read also: Already more than 70 green hydrogen projects in France

Nearly 1,100 TER currently use diesel, which SNCF wants to get rid of by 2035. The company is also testing various formulas using batteries and “green” fuels such as rapeseed.

Read also: Hydrogen: the train also converts, the plane is seriously thinking about it

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