Hydrogen deal will launch German rail revolution

German rail operator, Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn (NEB) has announced the order of a fleet of hydrogen powered trains in a move its CEO has said will be a significant step on the country’s journey to a sustainable transport future.

The company has signed a deal for seven two-car Mireo Plus H trains for the Heidekrautbahn network (RB27) in the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan region, from Siemens Mobility. Equipped with a fuel cell drive system and a lithium-ion battery, the firm said this second-generation hydrogen train provides completely CO₂ emission-free mobility.

Under the terms of the deal The hydrogen fleet will be delivered in the fall of 2024 and includes a service and spare parts supply agreement (TSSSA) covering the entire term of the transport contract

“Today, traveling by train is by far the most climate-friendly way to travel. We are especially proud that our first order for a fleet of hydrogen-powered trains will also enable emission-free rail transport on non-electrified routes,” said Michael Peter, CEO Siemens Mobility. “Our Mireo Plus H is a next-generation hydrogen train that combines innovation with sustainability. Thanks to its long range, faster acceleration, and state-of-the-art technologies, it will set new standards in zero-emission passenger transport.”

This is Siemens Mobility’s first order for a fleet of trains based on hydrogen technology, and it is estimated switching from diesel to hydrogen on the Heidekrautbahn will reduce annual CO₂ emissions by around three million kilos and save 1.1 million litres of diesel

“The Mireo Plus H is a highly advanced, second-generation hydrogen train featuring a hydrogen-powered traction system with 1.7 MW of traction power providing up to 1.1 m/s2 acceleration and a top speed of 160 km/h,” added Siemens. “In addition, the train has the lowest lifecycle costs on the market and can be refuelled in just 15 minutes.

“The Mireo’s energy-saving and environmentally friendly design is based on its self-supporting, welded and integral lightweight aluminium construction. The train’s improved aerodynamics together with its energy-efficient components and intelligent electrical system management also help reduce emissions and the use of resources.”

The use of hydrogen-powered trains on the Heidekrautbahn is part of a scientifically supported joint pilot project funded by the federal government and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg. The project is focused on setting up a regional, sustainable hydrogen infrastructure that also includes a hybrid power plant and a tank system. All train operations on the RB27 line are to be carried out exclusively with green – that is, regenerative and regionally produced – energy.

“We are proud to operate the Heidekrautbahn, the first rail network in the Berlin-Brandenburg region that will be using hydrogen fuel cell trains,” said NEB CEO Detlef Bröcker. “The highly innovative hydrogen-powered trains are not only environmentally friendly, but also provide modern equipment and features tailored to the needs of our passengers. Moreover, the manufacturer’s direct involvement in maintaining the trains will ensure a high level of security regarding train availability. By operating a technologically and ecologically upgraded railway, we want to actively support the energy and transportation transition and make local public transport for commuter service and tourism more attractive.”