Stadler unveils first hydrogen train for U.S., announces…

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Stadler unveils first hydrogen train for U.S., announces order for up to 29 more. California aims to make all its passenger rail 100% emissions free by 2035 and this order and option will be a key part of that effort.

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692 shares, 851 points


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  1. About time we started getting better rail systems in this country. We’ve had over a century of heavy lobbying from automotive industries slowing progress down, so well overdue.

  2. A lot of misinformed comments in here. This is a great step forward for the world’s decarbonisation plans.

    A few classic arguments against this being uplifting:

    1) hydrogen isn’t green right now and is just a way for big oil to stay relevant: Neither is electric (whether battery or not) – it’s a route that allows future decarbonisation via renewable power e.g. electrolysis-based green hydrogen. There are 100s of such truly green hydrogen projects around the world coming online 2025-2035 and onwards at megawatt and gigawatt scale tied to solar and wind power.

    2) hydrogen is inefficient: it is certainly less efficient than directly taking electrical power from the grid and possibly against battery electric too, however:

    a) it doesn’t need to rely on taking power when grids are constrained e.g. use power when renewables are over-producing thus decoupling train running times against peak grid consumption and

    b) hydrogen + fuel cells has much higher energy density and rapid refuelling compared to batteries (this isn’t even a consideration for freight trains because battery technology is just not good enough yet for heavy duty transport applications, whereas hydrogen is. Now.),

    c) reliability is king in this world, not efficiency. If we cared about efficiency, we would not run trains half empty and would charter trains when bookings were full. We used to do that 100s of years ago and when companies began running scheduled services to run regardless of booking numbers, we never turned back. In this world, reliability > efficiency,

    d) the energy conversion of hydrogen may be less efficient, but when considering overall capital cost of rail projects, long & infrequently used tracks are extremely expensive to directly electrify. That is why e.g. Germany still has diesel Train routes that are not electrified, and why they are also pursuing hydrogen-fuelled trains to convert these ‘hard to electrify’ routes – it ends up being more efficient overall, since power consumption is a small slice of the cost pie.

    3) hydrogen is unsafe: it’s certainly less safe than direct electrification. It’s comparable to diesel (and definitely comparable to natural gas which admittedly is not generally used to fuel trains). However, rail (just like aviation) is actually incredibly safe overall as a form of transport. Hydrogen is a known substance including the way it behaves when it ignites. There are ‘positives’ in the way hydrogen behaves as well – for example, it floats and disperses rapidly upwards away from people (this can also be a hazard if there are unvented roofs that it can collect under). If it is released it is almost certainly likely to ignite quickly due to its low ignition energy – therefore it is less likely to explosively detonate (because there’s less time for it to mix up a big explosive cloud), and more likely to generate a hot flame (not dissimilar to batteries on fire) – these known risks all play into the safe engineering design of the storage and fuelling systems, just like a diesel/gas/LPG-fuelled car which are much likely to be involved in a crash with explosive results (exploding cars mostly happen on TV, most cars go on fire).

    Alright, that’s enough for me. Hydrogen isn’t the answer for everything, but in a world where we are behind on the curve, it plays well into a mix of energy decarbonisation technologies that we need to leverage now and not later. Oil and gas was so easy to use for everything, but to wean ourselves off, we need a variety of technologies for all the niches fossil fuels have laid claim/waste to.

  3. Europeans will be asking, “why not just electrify the lines?” Scale. It requires a lot less infrastructure – refits at existing depots, maybe a few additional stops – to convert to hydrogen than it does to try and electrify thousands upon thousands of kilometres of track. This is much easier. Hoping the trans-Canada railways adopt this.

  4. No real impact if there aren’t more trains actually going in and out of our cities, LA has maybe 10 trains a day going in/out. There’s 24hr in a day. There’s 24 million people in Southern California.

    More trains. More rails. Then this’ll matter.

  5. I have this head canon that in a thousand years from now, California, Washington and Oregon are all going to be living some kind of technologically advanced life, while Texas’ power grid has completely failed and the rednecks with iPhone milleniums are still rolling coal to stick it to the Dems. But at this point there’s just a fox news AI broadcast that lies to them about civilization outside of their state.

  6. Man, if only trains traveled on static, predictable routes so we could put electric wires over those routes and power them that way or something.

  7. I definitely understand the arguments against hydrogen fuel not being a clean energy at its source, but as a counterpoint: this is a start. It’s definitely not an end point, but by creating vehicles that use the hydrogen fuel, there’s now a significant higher demand for it. That alone will create incentive for supply to be produced. Without demand, nobody’s going to produce the supply. So hopefully, this is a great, first step that will lead towards even better, cleaner production of hydrogen fuel. It’ll be interesting to see what this leads to.

  8. I’m sorry but this is a stupendously stupid use for a hydrogen powered vehicle.

    Trains are basically the easiest mode of transport to electrify. Why? Because they already run on giant metal rails… which can serve as ground wires. All you have to do is have another wire or rail to supply high voltage power and boom, electric train.

    Hydrogen is super inefficient because of the losses associated with producing hydrogen and transporting it. It might have a use-case for long haul trucking, but trains are already easily electrified so this is just beyond dumb. Plus 95% of current hydrogen is produced as a by-product of fossil fuel refineries. I would call these hydrogen trains not only greenwashing but actually actively harmful to the environment.

  9. Why would use hydrogen when you can just electrification of the rails ? Make the maglev and cut out the middle man. Hydrogen is costly to produce transport store. We have electric trains. C’mon guys. Ffs