We See Great Potential in Hydrogen
on Rail in the Moravian-Silesian Region
Low-emission sustainable transport is a hot topic in the Czech Republic. Hydrogen is an alternative
to electric propulsion. Hydrogen-powered vehicles are gradually being tested and promoted in
passenger and public transport, both road and rail. The Moravian-Silesian region is the furthest
along in considering hydrogen trains in our country," says Dan Kurucz, CEO of the Czech office
of Alstom, a world leader in sustainable rail mobility.
Hydrogen in transport has been talked about for
several years but is relatively new on the railways.
Why do you think hydrogen trains should run in
the Czech Republic?
It's not just about hydrogen propulsion, but about
sustainable mobility in general. On the rails, it is
the combination of electric, battery and hydrogen
trains that can replace the "dirty" diesel power in
the future. At Alstom, we can do all three.
The Moravian-Silesian Region
is the furthest away from this today,
as it is considering building
a hydrogen terminal that would
serve trains, buses, and freight
transport at the same time.
Each line has different conditions - profile, load,
electrification possibilities. In principle, it is all
about the efficiency. Busy backbone lines can be
electrified, and this is the case here. On less busy
lines, electrification does not make economic sense
compared to building infrastructure for batterypowered or hydrogen trains. In some places it is
not even possible to electrify because of the profile
of the line.
It's also about distance. Shorter lines without
electrification are well served by battery trains,
longer lines are well served by hydrogen. In
the Czech Republic, we have identified 16 lines
where hydrogen propulsion could be implemented,
including several lines in the Moravian-Silesian
Region, such as the Olomouc - Krnov - Ostrava line.
It's also all about clean mobility! The emissions of
hydrogen trains consist only of pure water vapor in
Why is the length of the track important?
Current battery trains have an operating range
of around 80 kilometers and are therefore more
suitable for shorter sections without electrification
or combined lines that are partially electrified,
and trains can be recharged "under the wire". Our
Coradia iLint hydrogen trainset has a range of over
1,000 kilometers per fill. Moreover, only a few
refueling stations are needed to build a hydrogen
infrastructure in the Czech Republic.
But isn't building refueling stations expensive?
You're right, but compared to the cost of
electrifying, the investment for building filling
stations is much lower. Moreover, you can't just
look at it from a rail transport perspective. It
makes sense to consider conceptual solutions
where filling stations can also be used for buses.
The Moravian-Silesian Region is the furthest
away from this today, as it is considering building
a hydrogen terminal that would serve trains, buses,
and freight transport at the same time. This then
has a significant impact on the overall economics
of infrastructure construction. I should also point
out that the Moravian-Silesian Region is also ahead
of the rest in terms of potential manufacturers
of hydrogen filling stations, both stationary and
mobile. We are working with a company in Ostrava
on a joint idea to develop mobile rail refuellers.
We want to lend a helping hand to
the state and regions so that hydrogen
can become part of the Czech energy
mix and start to be promoted alongside
other sustainable solutions.
You are also promoting conceptual solutions
within the recently established Hydrogen Mobility
Initiative. What is your goal?
The initiative, backed by Orlen Unipetrol, Air
Products and Toyota and Alstom, seeks to promote
the building of hydrogen infrastructure. We are all
investing heavily in hydrogen and are convinced
that the bet on hydrogen will pay off for the Czech
Republic in the long run. Yet our country is lagging
far behind in this area. While others are building
hydrogen electrolysis plants, infrastructure or
testing solutions such as our hydrogen trains in
Sweden or Italy, we lack the necessary legislation.
We want to lend a helping hand to the state and
regions so that hydrogen can become part of
the Czech energy mix and start to be promoted
alongside other sustainable solutions.
Mr Kurucz, thank you for the interview.
Text a foto: PAM Services, s.r.o.
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