Deutsche Bahn is moving away from conventional diesel fuel in order to be a fully climate-neutral business by 2050.
In order to achieve this goal, Deutsche Bahn is trialling different opportunities for alternative traction and fuels. The advanced TrainLab test train is already operating with green diesel, which reduces carbon emissions by 90 percent. Starting in October, the Sylt Shuttle between Westerland and Niebüll will start operating with green diesel. Further tests in regular train operations are also planned.
“The railways can only become climate-neutral when we say goodbye to diesel. We have to radically reduce the use of fossil fuels and bring it down to zero. By 2050 DB will not operate a single diesel-powered vehicle anymore. That's quite a challenge with an annual consumption of more than 250 million litres of diesel per year – and we're tackling it. Industry must massive push ahead with research and development so that alternative fuels and traction systems can be used on rail, the roads and in the air.”
Two types of green diesel are being used in the advanced TrainLab and the Sylt Shuttle, which are made either wholly or partially from waste products. The diesel engines of the test train have coped successfully with this new fuel and did not require any technical alterations. Preparations for implementing green diesel on a larger scale on regional services in Baden-Württemberg are currently under way.
Since there is no universal solution as to how conventional diesel is best replaced, DB is testing not just alternative fuels but alternative traction power. Some hybrid vehicles are already in use. There will be battery-powered trains that can recharge their batteries on short stretches of overhead line. More trains powered by hydrogen are also in planning.
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