Indian Railways will roll out indigenous hydrogen-powered trains by December 2023. While the minister had previously confirmed the timeline on multiple occasions, for the first time, he stated that the hydrogen train will run on its narrow gauge heritage routes by December, making them “completely green”. Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said Tuesday the trains will be on the lines of those running in China and Germany.
As a pilot project, the railways is manufacturing a prototype of hydrogen fuel-based train at the Northern Railway workshop. It would be test-run on the Sonipat-Jind section in Haryana. “We will roll out the hydrogen trains on the heritage routes from December 2023. This will mean that these heritage routes will go completely green,” said Vaishnaw.
Worldwide, there is a bid to replace diesel-powered locomotives with hydrogen-propelled engines wherever full electrification is difficult or too expensive as it offers an emission-free, quiet alternative that can be economically competitive.
Germany’s Coradia iLint is the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for traction. This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhaust being only steam and condensed water. This train can run 1000 km at a speed of 140kmph at one go. This train was being tested in Germany since 2018.
China too recently launched Asia’s first hydrogen-powered trains for the Urban Railways. It gets a range of 600 km on a single tank, with a top speed of 160 kmph, according to reports.
Indian Railways’ heritage routes, which primarily run on diesel are — Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, Nilgiri Mountain Railway, Kalka Shimla Railway, Matheran Hill Railway, Kangra Valley, Bilmora Waghai and Marwar-Devgarh Madriya. All are narrow gauge.