Germany: Alstom and DB Begin Passenger Service Tests of Battery-Electric Train

Deutsche Bahn (DB) will begin testing Alstom’s battery-electric multiple unit (BEMU) on DB Regio passenger services from this week.

Alstom has been developing its battery-electric train together with the TU Berlin and the National Organisation for Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology (NOW), with funding from the Federal Ministry for Digital Affairs and Transport, since 2016 (a Bombardier TALENT 3 train at the time).

In the future it plans to introduce this technology to its Coradia platform.

This test is the next step in proving the viability of battery-electric trains as a successor to diesel trains in Germany.

While Alstom’s hydrogen trains are optimised for long-distance routes, BEMUs are suitable for short lines or routes with non-electrified (or not yet electrified) sections previously operated with diesel vehicles.

It will enable direct connections between electrified and non-electrified network sections to be operated emission-free when in use.

The test operations will run until the start of May in collaboration with local transport company Nahverkehrsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg (NVBW) and the Bavarian Railway Company (BEG).

From 24 January, Alstom’s first fully approved battery train will run on the Stuttgart-Horb route every weekday. While in Baden-Württemberg charging is possible during the journey.

From 5 February it will serve the Pleinfeld-Gunzenhausen line in the Franconian Lake District on Saturdays and Sundays.

This enables the train to run as high as possible, and as the route is not electrified and charging will only be possible within electrified stations, gives the partners a chance to test different route profiles and battery-charging scenarios.

Dr Jorg Sandvoss, DB Regional Manager, said:

“At Deutsche Bahn we want to be climate-neutral by 2040. With the first battery train in customer operation, we’re now taking the next big step in regional transport on the way to an emission-free railway in Germany.

“With this test, DB Regio wants to gain practical experience in order to master these future technologies in operation and maintenance. The test operation provides new technical and operational insights into dealing with the innovative, climate-friendly drive technology.”

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