Frankfurt’s RMV presents first fuel cell train, with 26 more on the way

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Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV) – a transport association that covers the public transport network of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area in Germany – has, together with its partners, presented its first fuel cell train in Frankfurt, which will be in regular service in the Taunus network by the end of this year.

© RMV/Arne Landwehr
© RMV/Arne Landwehr

From December, the first vehicles of the 27-strong Coradia iLint fleet ordered from Alstom will start in the Taunus network and will initially be used on the RB15 route. The other vehicles will be delivered by spring 2023 and gradually put into operation. 

The Taunus network comprises four routes, some of which have not yet been electrified: RB11: Frankfurt-Höchst – Bad Soden; RB12: Frankfurt – Koenigstein; RB15: Frankfurt – Brandoberndorf; and RB16: Bad Homburg - Friedberg.

The lines are operated by Regionalverkehre Start Deutschland. The 100% DB subsidiary prevailed in a Europe-wide tender and replaced the Hessian State Railway (HLB). To ensure operation in the Taunus network until the hydrogen trains are fully delivered, HLB will temporarily continue to operate lines RB11 and RB16 until the end of April. 

The vehicles were procured from the vehicle management region Frankfurt RheinMain (fahma), a 100% subsidiary of RMV. The project volume is around €500 million over 25 years for vehicle procurement, maintenance, and operation.

Infraserv Höchst, the operating company of the Höchst Industrial Park, has installed hydrogen storage and compressor systems in addition to the actual refueling facilities, and the track systems in the industrial park have also been expanded. An important part of the project is the construction of an electrolyser for hydrogen production. Hydrogen has long been produced at Industriepark Höchst as a by-product of production processes.

The federal government will finance 40% of the additional vehicle costs, limited to €14.7 million, which are incurred compared to the procurement of conventional diesel vehicles. In this way, the federal government is making an important contribution to RMV being able to rely on alternative drive systems when procuring vehicles. In addition, the federal government is directly promoting the construction of the hydrogen filling station in Industriepark Höchst. The federal government is supporting the project with a total of €24.3 million.

The state of Hesse is funding the construction of the basic rail infrastructure for the hydrogen filling station with around €2.5 million, which is almost 60% of the costs. In addition, there was €800,000 for preparatory reports and a mobile train refueling facility.