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Siemens Mobility: hydrogen and battery traction complement one another

17 May 2024
Reading time ~ 3 min
The Mireo Plus H and Mireo Plus B
The Mireo Plus H and Mireo Plus B trains. Source: Siemens Mobility
Belov Sergey, Editor-in-Chief, ROLLINGSTOCK Agency
Reading time ~ 3 min
Savenkova Ekaterina, Editorial Contributor to International Projects of ROLLINGSTOCK Agency

This position has recently been highlighted by its CEO Rolling Stock, Albrecht Neumann, on LinkedIn.

He asserts that the development of hydrogen and battery traction technologies is not merely a potential avenue for growth, but a strategic imperative for the future of rail transport.

According to Neumann, there is no competition between the technologies. Hydrogen-based rolling stock is better suited to long-distance travel, while battery-powered vehicles, which require frequent recharging, are more suitable for shorter journeys. “After approximately 120 km, these trains require a minimum one-hour recharge”, he writes, pointing out that more environmentally friendly approaches to producing rechargeable batteries still need to be found.

To illustrate his point, he compares two Siemens Mobility trains: the Mireo Plus H and the Mireo Plus B. The former is a hydrogen EMU with a range of up to 1,200 km (earlier claimed to be up to 1,000 km) and a refuelling time of 15 minutes, and the latter, a battery-powered one, is already in service.

Neumann has stated that the current cost of hydrogen to move a train one km is about three times that of battery traction. He has further indicated that hydrogen could potentially replace diesel in the United States, although not for economic reasons. In California, operators of diesel vehicles are required to pay up to $1 mln to a trust account when a certain amount of fuel is consumed. Last year, the EPA allowed imposing even stricter restrictions on the operation of diesel locomotives.

The potential for alternative traction has been a topic of discussion since the development of these technologies. Estimates depend on the input parameters chosen by speakers, primarily the cost of fuel, electricity, or infrastructure. In 2023, for instance, Stadler has identified battery-powered trains as a more promising option for Europe. Nevertheless, it is important to note that the Swiss manufacturer has many contracts for such trains.

In the context of the European energy crisis, the position of hydrogen traction has become less favourable. Operators are cancelling orders or opting for battery and traditional electric traction. The use of alternative traction is contingent on the availability of subsidies. Eastern European operators, however, believe that the lack of support for diesel rolling stock is a mistake.

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