CP Moving into a Hydrogen Powered Future

Canadian Pacific's experimental hydrogen-powered locomotive has successfully completed its first revenue run in Calgary, Alberta
Canadian Pacific's experimental hydrogen-powered locomotive has successfully completed its first revenue run in Calgary, Alberta

THUNDER BAY – Since 2006 regular readers on NetNewsLedger may remember how often we have written about hydrogen powered rail.

Hydrail, short for “hydrogen rail,” refers to the use of hydrogen fuel cells as a power source for trains. This technology is being developed as a more sustainable and efficient alternative to traditional fossil fuels for rail transportation.

Canadian Pacific’s experimental hydrogen-powered locomotive has successfully completed its first revenue run in Calgary, Alberta, marking a significant step towards potentially replacing diesel-electric locomotives with the technology.

The locomotive, called H2 0EL, or “hydrogen zero-emissions locomotive,” uses hydrogen fuel cells and batteries to power its electric traction motors and made the run on October 28th.

Canadian Pacific is using solar power to produce hydrogen at its Calgary headquarters and has a separate facility in Edmonton.

The company is partnering with the Alberta government to build two more locomotives and expects to have them operating in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver by the end of next year.

If the tests are successful, hydrogen fuel-cell locomotives could be deployed in local service until a hydrogen fueling network and tenders can be established across the railway system.

Last year, Alberta announced a major initiative to become a Canadian leader in hydrogen energy.

CP Rail has announced the first conversion of a diesel locomotive to hydrogen.

CP Rail states that the hydrogen infrastructure at CP’s Edmonton and Calgary sites will include a 1MW electrolyzer, compression, storage, and dispensing for locomotive refuelling.

The facilities will include production and supply of hydrogen being provided to locomotives in 2023.

CP will also be converting three diesel-electric powertrains to hydrogen-electric powertrains as part of the project.

ATCO Group (ATCO) was awarded an engineering, procurement, and construction services contract from CP. WSP is providing detailed design.

There are several potential benefits to using hydrail:

  1. Zero emissions: Hydrail trains do not emit greenhouse gases or other pollutants, making them a clean and environmentally friendly transportation option.
  2. Energy efficiency: Hydrogen fuel cells are highly efficient, converting up to 60% of the energy they produce into usable power.
  3. Quiet operation: Hydrail trains are much quieter than diesel trains, making them more suitable for use in urban and residential areas.
  4. Refueling convenience: Hydrail trains can be refueled quickly and easily, allowing them to have a longer range and more flexibility in their schedules.
  5. Cost savings: Although the initial investment in hydrail technology may be higher than traditional rail systems, the long-term operating costs are likely to be lower due to the reduced need for fuel and maintenance.

Is There a Thunder Bay Opportunity?

In 2007, then Premier Dalton McGuinty told a Thunder Bay audience that “Ontario would lead the world in the development of hydrogen technology”.

Since then the plant has been sold to Alstom.

Alstom is a global leader in hydrail.

“Stan Thompson and Coradia iLint Alstom (in blue) at her debutant party in Bremervörde, Niedersachsen, Germany, on 16 September 2016.” photo credit: Detlef Matthiessen, Green Party Delegation Leader-Emeritus, Schleswig-Holstein Parliament (Landtag).
“Stan Thompson and Coradia iLint Alstom (in blue) at her debutant party in Bremervörde, Niedersachsen, Germany, on 16 September 2016.”
photo credit: Detlef Matthiessen, Green Party Delegation Leader-Emeritus, Schleswig-Holstein Parliament (Landtag).

Acting on behalf of the four regions, SNCF Voyageurs has placed an order with Alstom for the first 12 dual mode electric-hydrogen trains (plus two optional trainsets) in the Coradia Polyvalent range for Régiolis, developed by Alstom. The contract is worth a total of almost 190 million euros
. In the early days, trains were powered by steam and thermal, then electric energy followed, this innovation marks a genuine revolution in rail mobility. A first in France, it will work towards the energy transition goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution, an ambition supported by the French government through its Hydrogen plan launched in June 2018. It is fully in line with the PLANETER programme to reduce the environmental impact of SNCF Voyageurs’ regional mobility solutions, based on the conviction that introducing more TERs (regional express trains) can significantly reduce CO2 emissions. Other French regions have already expressed their interest in participating in a second phase of the project.

This official French order for hydrogen-powered trains is the result of two years of joint efforts by the project’s various stakeholders. The dual mode electric-hydrogen Coradia Polyvalent train meets the requirements of France’s diverse rail network and has an autonomy of up to 600 km on sections of non-electrified railway. This four-car, 72m-long train has a total capacity of 218 seats and the same dynamic performance and level of comfort as the dual mode electric-diesel version.

Almost 400 dual mode electric-thermal and full-electric Coradia Polyvalent trains have been ordered by French regions since 2011. The development and manufacture of Coradia Polyvalent trains secure over 2,000 jobs in France for Alstom and its suppliers. Six of Alstom’s 15 sites in France are involved in the project: Reichshoffen (Bas-Rhin) for design and assembly, Ornans (Doubs) for engines, Le Creusot (Saône-et-Loire) for bogies, Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées) for traction chains and the development of hydrogen propulsion, Villeurbanne (Rhône) for on-board electronics and Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis) for design.

“France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition.

“Environmental protection is a major issue and without doubt the greatest challenge of the 21st century. This order for the first Coradia trains in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is the next step in our region’s ambition to boost green growth focusing on innovation, business development and job creation. Since our commitment to the European project Zero Emission Valley, we have aimed to make our region – home to almost all players in the hydrogen sector – one of the lowest carbon regions in Europe, by developing applications for this new source of energy. Hydrogen trains are an innovative alternative to the diesel trains running on our non-electrified lines,” said Laurent Wauquiez, President of the regional council of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes.

“As a source of energy and a storage solution, hydrogen, and particularly green hydrogen, is a way not only to tackle the effects of global warming, but also to boost employment, attractiveness and growth in our region. As a pioneer in this strategic technology, the region has brought together the talents and skills of both Bourgogne and Franche-Comté in its shift towards hydrogen. The order for three Coradia Polyvalent H2s worth a total of 52 million euros marks another step in our rollout of hydrogen for low-carbon mobility solutions. The trains will run between Auxerre and Laroche-Migennes, and will be part of the first regional ecosystem in France to include the train, based in Auxerre,” said Marie-Guite Dufay, President of the regional council of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

“This landmark order confirms our commitment to maintaining employment and activity at the Reichshoffen site, where all the trains – three plus two optional for the Grand Est region and nine others ordered by our counterparts – will be assembled. This is the first step in the long-term strategy of TER Grand Est and our involvement in this unprecedented programme aims to stimulate a nationwide launch of the light hydrogen train in France. Indeed, the trials carried out will be fundamental in developing a French hydrogen rail sector and, in a second phase, producing the light hydrogen train that the Grand Est region badly needs to roll out its policy to save and develop its small railways,” said the President of the regional council of Grand Est.

“This is a key moment in our drive for hydrogen in Occitanie. This first order gives the go-ahead for a new era of technological progress at the service of green mobility with the liO regional public transport service. The Occitanie Region is the only one committed to the 4 greening solutions for its regional trains (Régiolis Hybrid, battery train, bioGNV, hydrogen) and will welcome the 3 hydrogen Régiolis trains on the Montréjeau – Luchon line which we are going to reopen by 2025. It is also good news for our region’s employment and growth, particularly with the Alstom plant in Tarbes involved in manufacturing these innovative trains. Low-carbon reindustrialisation of our regions and green mobility solutions are no longer a utopian dream, they are already at work in our regions. I would like to salute the collective engagement of the four regions that have demonstrated their capacity to initiate and support this project, which promotes the emergence of a promising sector for the future here in France,” said Carole Delga, President of the regional council of Occitanie / Pyrénées – Méditerranée.

“Alstom is particularly proud to be contributing, alongside SNCF Voyageurs and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie regions, to a cleaner and more sustainable mobility solution. Alstom is the first rail company in the world to launch a hydrogen train onto the market and to master this technology through its iLint train, developed for the German market. This new order for the French market is fully in line with Alstom Group’s ambition to become number one in the green and smart mobility market and to help roll out an efficient hydrogen ecosystem in our regions,” said Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, President of Alstom France.

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