Germany to use hydrogen fuel cell trains on reactivated historic Heidekrautbahn line

4th May 2021 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Contributing Editor

The German Federal Ministry of Transport has provided €25-million in funding for a project using green hydrogen in rail transportation in Brandenburg.

The total cost of the project to connect the surrounding area with the metropolis of Berlin was €100-million, said Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer on May 3.

Rail operator Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn plans to use six hydrogen fuel cell trains and said the parallel reactivation of the main line of the Heidekrautbahn would create additional synergies.

The three partners in the project, renewable energy company Enertrag, Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn and municipal infrastructure organisation Kreiswerke Barnim in the Barnim and Havelland districts, want to build up regional hydrogen infrastructure and sustainable mobility in local rail passenger transport.

With this project, the National Hydrogen Strategy would be consistently implemented. By December 2024, fuel cell-powered trains are to run on the regional railway line RB27, said Scheuer.

The green hydrogen would be produced 100% from locally generated renewable energy by the energy company, said Enertrag CEO Jörg Müller.

Kreiswerke Barnim will create the necessary infrastructure, including a hydrogen filling station.

Enertrag generates 1.68-million megawatt-hours of energy and has 1 125 wind turbines. Niederbarnimer Eisenbahn operates 11 rail lines in the region.

In the future, Kreiswerke Barnim wants to secure the district's supply 100% independent of fossil energy.

German Infrastructure Minister Guido Beermann said he was pleased that the historic main line of the Heidekrautbahn would be reactivated and that this project would be the start of the delivery of climate-friendly hydrogen infrastructure.

Brandenburg Minister of Economic Affairs Jörg Steinbach said he was convinced hydrogen and fuel cell technologies would have a decisive industrial-political economic impact in the future.

The project is receiving scientific support from the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and the German Aerospace Centre.