Europe’s first tram powered by a hydrogen fuel cell

The German company HÖRMANN Vehicle Engineering is developing a unique innovation in collaboration with the company HeiterBlick GmbH and the company Flexiva Automation & Robotik: Europe’s first tram powered by a hydrogen fuel cell.

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) has given the green light to the project with the approval of the grant of funds. The project is financed by the BMVI within the framework of the National Innovation Program for Hydrogen Technology and Fuel Cells (PIN 2) for a total amount of 2.1 million euros. The financing line is coordinated by NOW GmbH and executed by the project management agency Jülich (PtJ).

The hydrogen fuel cell tram prototype will be unveiled by Heiterblick over the next four years. The innovative drive allows urban tram companies to open new routes, where overhead lines are difficult or impossible to implement for ecological, urban or traffic reasons. This way, new neighborhoods and suburbs can be developed much more easily.

All major cities will be forced to find new mobility solutions in the coming years due to the federal government’s climate policy goals. The current infrastructure will quickly reach its capacity limits. The rapid provision of environmentally friendly public transport must be rethought.

Volkmar Vogel, Vice President Business Development at HÖRMANN Vehicle Engineering.

Transport companies are increasingly planning new tram networks without overhead lines.

Among other things, the fact that there are no contact line masts or power lines to disturb the airspace argues in favor of removing the traction power supply. In addition, all traction current cables (forward and return) and supply substations are removed. Moreover, complex safety measures are not necessary to protect users of urban space against overhead line accidents.

As “only” the rails are needed for the fuel cell tram, the planning and use of road public space can be optimized.

Lengthy approval procedures and third-party asset interventions are no longer necessary.

The project creates the conditions for realizing the first application example of an innovative fuel cell tram on rails in Europe in the near future. Through the construction and operation of the components of a hydrogen tram, data from the test bed and subsequently the field data, which should be integrated into the development of the subsequent series, can be collected and evaluated.

Frank Salzwedel, CEO of Hörmann Vehicle Engineering.

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