News & Reviews News Wire Alstom’s hydrogen passenger train to debut in Quebec

Alstom’s hydrogen passenger train to debut in Quebec

By Trains Staff | February 3, 2023

| Last updated on February 6, 2024

June-September demonstration along St. Lawrence River route will be first use of hydrogen passenger equipment in North America

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Blue and white passenger train with people
Visitors to the InnoTrans trade fair in 2016 look over Alstom’s Corradia iLint hydrogen fuel-cell trainset. David Lassen

QUEBEC CITY — A hydrogen-powered passenger train will make its North American debut this summer in Quebec.

Alstom’s Coradia iLint, which first entered commercial service in Germany in 2018, will operate in a demonstration project on the Réseau Charlevoix rail network, following the St. Lawrence River between Parc de la Chute Montmorency and Baie-Saint-Paul, approximately 52 miles northeast of Quebec City.

Map of Train de Charlevoix route
The Alstom hydrogen equipment will operate between Quebec City and Baie-Saint-Paul. Train de Charlevoix

The train will operate Wednesday through Saturday from June 17 through Sept. 30, through a partnership with the Government of Quebec, Chemin de fer Charlevoix, Harnois Énergies and Canadian hydrogen firm HTEC. Harnois Énergies will produce green hydrogen for the train at its Quebec City site.

Alstom said in a press release that the operation with passengers on board “will allow Alstom and its partners to better assess the subsequent steps for the development of hydrogen propulsion and penetration into the North American market.

The iLint hydrogen trainset was unveiled at the InnoTrans trade fair in Berlin in 2016 [see “Alstom unveils hydrogen-powered train …,” Trains News Wire, Sept. 20, 2016], began service in September 2018, and just last year entered regular daily operation [see “World’s first hydrogen trains enter regular passenger service,” News Wire, July 26, 2022]. iLint trains have now traveled more than 220,000 kilometers (136,700 miles) while operating in eight European countries.

Blue and white two-car passenger train at station in Germany
A hydrogen-powered train operated by EVB rests at the station in Bremervörde, Germany, in 2022 after the start of regularly scheduled operations. Russell Sharp

The Quebec operation will allow Alstom to place a hydrogen fuel-cell train into operation ahead of what had been expected to be the first such train, a multiple-unit Flirt H2 trainset built by Switzerland’s Stadler for use on the Arrow commuter line between San Bernardino and Redlands, Calif. Stadler unveiled the trainset for that operation at the 2022 edition of InnoTrans, saying it would undergo extensive testing in Europe through 2023 before delivery to the U.S. to begin operation in 2024 [see “Stadler unveils first hydrogen train for U.S. …,” News Wire, Sept. 21, 2022].

“As early as 2018, Alstom was the first two put a hydrogen train into service in Europe, and we aim to be the first in the Americas as well,” said Michael Keroullé, president, Alstom Americas. “… This project will demonstrate our capabilities to provide more sustainable mobility solutions to customers, agencies, and operators, as well as to passengers.”

7 thoughts on “Alstom’s hydrogen passenger train to debut in Quebec

  1. Why did you have to bring politics into it! Nice story of a progressive look into the future. We really don’t need you to come, Thanks you!

  2. OH NO!! I vowed to not visit Canada while Justin Trudeau was their PM!! Now there is not only New Trackage but Hydrogen Power to boot! In 2011 I violated my bow to Never Rind an AC Electric on the Morris & Essex former ex-DL&W 3000-Volt DC line to ride an AC Electric in from Brick Church to Hoboken Terminal to ride Bennett Levin’s trip. OK, so Nothing Happened. Better get my passport renewed! But in the meantime we may have Nuclear War so Travel to Canada will be OFF.
    So will the service run out of Palace Station so I can connect? Unclear from the story where it will leave from. But is part of the run on the old electric line to St. Anne de Beaupre?

    1. It cannot reach Palais Station because it would have to pass through CN’s Limoilou yard and light rail vehicles cannot run there (and even if they could, CN would probably object). The western terminus is near the Montmorency waterfall, just a few km east.

      The Charlevoix railway is a wonderfully scenic ride between Beaupré and La Malbaie, the line skirts the St.Lawrence river all the way.

      What’s a pity though is since the tourist train service started running around 2012, freight traffic has been ousted from the line, despite obvious demand, notably from the forest products industry. Back in 2006, trains were averaging 30-40 cars out of Clermont five days a week.

      Using non-TC-compliant German-built Class-628 DMU’s obviously isn’t helping, but a temporal separation could be used to run freight traffic at night. That would yield much a much greater reduction in pollution and greenhouse gases than playing with an hydrogen toy-train that most likely can’t handle Winter weather.

    2. Doesn’t make sense why freight can’t run at night. It’s done with no problems elsewhere. Any reason why not?

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