Iberdrola to partner for hydrogen railways in Italy; Hydrogen train debut in Sweden

Iberdrola framework agreement would make Rome the first capital in the world to have green hydrogen-powered trains.

Iberdrola (a Spanish multinational electric utility company) has inked a framework agreement with Aecom (an American engineering company), Ancitel Energia e Ambiente (an Italian sustainable mobility company) and Cinque International (an Italian sustainable energy & smart mobility solutions company) to transform Apennines railway line to hydrogen.

The Apennines railway axis is connecting Sansepolcro (Arezzo) with Sulmona (L’Aquila), in Italy and is over 300 km. It connects the inland areas of Italy, which crosses Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo, passing through Perugia, Terni, Rieti and L’Aquila.

The line is partially un-electrified and is operated by diesel trains that have reached the end of their useful life. The transformation to green hydrogen energy will cut costs significantly compared to traditional electrified and bring innovation and development to areas subject to depopulation and deindustrialisation.

The framework agreement also includes an assessment of the technical feasibility of developing the green hydrogen-powered Ferrovia dei Due Mari (Railway of the Two Seas) transverse line. This would connect Fiumicino airport and Rome with San Benedetto del Tronto via Rieti, Amatrice and Ascoli Piceno, making Rome the first capital in the world to have trains powered by green hydrogen.

The conversion initiatives are part of the integrated and sustainable project to revitalise the central Apennines, promoted by Aecom, Ancitel Energia e Ambiente and Cinque International.

The Sansepolcro-Sulmona hydrogen railway project has already progressed. In 2020, after a previous feasibility study, a technical study was launched at the MiSE with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (MIT), the FS group and RFI. In July 2021, the project passed the pre-selection phase by the European Commission within the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance.

In a separate development, Alstom’s Coradia iLint passenger train made its Swedish debut in Ostersund. Alstom is presenting the train to various local stakeholders, including regional operators, transport authorities and government decision-makers, to highlight the potential of the Coradia iLint for sustainable transport in Sweden.

The Coradia iLint trains, the world’s first passenger train powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, can reduce CO2 emissions in Sweden and even decarbonise rail transport. The hydrogen trains have been tested and are recently implementing (or planning to implement) in Germany, the Netherlands, and Austria. Coradia iLint was launched in 2016. The first two 100% H2 iLint trains entered commercial service in 2018 in Germany and have now covered over 100k km. Since its launch, 41 trainsets have been ordered in Germany, and successful trials have taken place in Austria and the Netherlands. In Italy, the operator FNM confirmed an order for 14 100% H2 trains at the end of 2020.

Ethan Mandel

Ethan is the special correspondent for Europe covering the hydrogen industry for H2 Bulletin. Please click on the email icon to contact me via email or follow me on social media. I am reachable on Phone: +44 (0) 208 123 7812
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