Hydrogen technologies save €350 million for rail

Hydrogen technologies, instead of catenary electrification need to be developed for our railway.

Stadler’s diesel powered multiple unit on estonian railway.

The Estonian Association of Hydrogen Technologies proposes to take up hydrogen technologies instead of catenary electrification. Hydrogen technologies would save €350 million for the state and compared to catenary electrification allows reaching Estonia’s climate goals by 3 times and renewable energy targets 6 times cheaper.

In the proposal sent to the ministries and parliament it is recommended to hold plans for electrification until a result is achieved on the deployment of hydrogen technologies on rail.

Reducing the carbon footprint in transportation and rail is one of the key challenges for Estonia in the coming years. The current plan is to achieve renewable energy goals by electrifying rail and it is expected to cost €428 million. The government made this principle decision in the summer of 2019 and Estonian Railways announced the procurement of design work in May this year.

The train traffic is too sparse on Estonian railway, which gives the opportunity for hydrogen technologies.

It is now the last chance to make a strategic decision to adopt hydrogen technologies on rail, make Estonia lead the world in this field of technology, save €350 million for other projects and help us reach climate- and renewable energy goals times cheaper. The failure to make forward-looking decisions now would mean decades-long entanglement with yesterday’s wasteful technologies and an aggravation of the development gap. However, the savings effect of the introduction of next generation technologies would provide an additional opportunity to make additional investments in railways, such as achieving the speed of passenger traffic suitable for a modern European country.

By implementing these proposals, perhaps by 2030 it will be possible to travel from Tallinn to Tartu by a more efficient, cleaner hydrogen train instead of a diesel. With the money saved, opportunities could be created to improve the railway in the direction of Narva and Tartu, perhaps even allowing passenger trains at speeds beyond the current ambition of 135 km/h but also allowing for more efficient services, additional trains and smarter systems.”

The proposals also indicate that hydrogen production based on rail transport can be further developed to include hydrogen for road vehicles. With the introduction of hydrogen technology on the railway, it is possible to create preconditions for covering the whole of Estonia with universal hydrogen infrastructure.