Germany signs contract for first hydrogen-powered passenger trains

MUNICH, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Germany plans to bring the world’s first trains powered by hydrogen fuel cells into service, with 14 emission-free trains due to transport passengers in Lower Saxony from 2021.

The trains will be built by France’s Alstom at its site in Salzgitter to replace diesel trains running between Cuxhaven, Bremerhaven, Bremervoerde and Buxtehude.

The trains, named Coradia iLint, can cover up to 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) with one tank of hydrogen, and can reach a maximum speed of up to 140 kilometres per hour.

“This day represents a real breakthrough in rail transportation,” said Alstom’s senior vice president for Europe, Gian Luca Erbacci. “For the first time, worldwide, a hydrogen-fuelled passenger regional train will replace diesel trains.”

The agreement signed on Thursday by Lower Saxony’s local transport authority, Alstom and Linde - which will supply the hydrogen filling station - coincided with climate talks in Bonn in which almost 200 countries are trying to bolster a global climate accord.

The heads of some of the world’s biggest oil firms and automakers agreed early this year to push for broader global use and bigger investments in using hydrogen to help reduce emissions and arrest global warming. (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan Editing by Greg Mahlich)