French rail company SNCF announced Thursday that it has ordered 12 hydrogen-powered trains that will begin testing in four regions of the country in 2023.
The trains will be built by French industrial group Alstom and will run on hydrogen or electricity, according to a joint statement.
They are designed to travel up to 600 kilometers and “should be operational in 2025” in commercial service, according to the head of Alstom France, Jean-Baptiste Eymeoud.
The contract amounts to 190 million euros (225 million dollars) for the first 12 trains, which will have capacity for 218 passengers and will be divided equally between four regions in the east and south of France.
Alstom is a pioneer in this technology. It ran its first prototypes in Germany in 2018 and has now entered an industrial phase, with 41 orders to date.
These trains mix hydrogen and oxygen present in the air on board, thanks to a fuel cell installed on the roof that produces the electricity needed to power the train. They only emit water vapor.
It is a further step towards “zero emission” in public rail transport, “Christophe Fanichet, director of SNCF, told AFP.
“France has what it takes to become a hydrogen champion: the government is fully committed to making this ambition a reality,” said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of Transport, in a statement.