Hydrogen train for Canada’s net zero transport system

hydrogen train

A new hydrogen train will carry passengers in its first commercial service on Quebec’s Reseau Charlevoix network.

The project, featuring a Coradia iLint hydrogen-powered train, will test a first-ever green hydrogen ecosystem dedicated to rail transportation in America in a partnership with the Government of Quebec, Chemin de fer Charlevoix, Harnois Énergies and HTEC.

During summer 2023, the hydrogen train will carry passengers along the St. Lawrence River powered by green hydrogen produced by Harnois Énergies at its Quebec City site.

The province of Quebec will be the first jurisdiction in the Americas to run a train with zero direct emissions powered by green hydrogen. The operation of this train with passengers on board will allow Alstom and its partners to better assess the subsequent steps for the development of hydrogen propulsion technology and its use in the North American market.

The Coradia iLint first entered commercial service in Germany in 2018 and has travelled more than 220,000 kilometres in eight European countries. The train is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that emits only water vapour during operation, while ensuring a quieter environment for passengers and those close to tracks.

On September 15, 2022, the Coradia iLint travelled the record distance of 1,175 kilometres without refuelling. Coradia iLint has a top speed of 140 km/h and acceleration and a braking performance comparable to a standard regional diesel train but without the noise and the emissions. Coradia iLint stands out for its combination of innovative features: clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, smart traction and energy management. Designed especially for non-electrified lines, it allows for safe, clean and sustainable operations. To date, 41 trainsets have been ordered by clients in Europe.

“As early as 2018, Alstom was the first to put a hydrogen train into service in Europe and we aim to be the first in the Americas as well,” explains Michael Keroullé, president Alstom Americas. “With only one per cent of the networks electrified in our region, this technology will provide an alternative to diesel. This project will demonstrate our capabilities to provide more sustainable mobility solutions to customers, agencies and operators, as well as to passengers. It will also provide an extraordinary showcase for Quebec’s developing green hydrogen ecosystem.”

François Legault, Premier of Quebec, said: “Quebec is positioning itself as a centre of expertise in sustainable transportation on the continent. Promising innovations such as Alstom’s will not only help us achieve our ambitious climate change targets, but they will also be able to be exported elsewhere in the world. I am convinced that our nation has everything it takes to become one of the international leaders in the green economy.”

Commercial service of the Coradia iLint in Quebec is the first mandate of Alstom’s new innovation centre in the Americas, which is dedicated to sustainable mobility solutions. This is the first milestone in the development of an ecosystem around Alstom’s rail solutions with zero direct emissions. The primary mission of this centre, located in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec, is the development of future platforms with hybrid, battery or green hydrogen propulsion, leveraging the proximity to the more than 700 Alstom engineers currently working in the city to help accelerate the decarbonisation of the rail sector.

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