German state to replace diesel trains with electric variants

The German state of Lower Saxony wants to take its diesel trains completely off the rails by 2037 and replace them with battery-powered trains. A total of 102 new multiple-unit trains are to gradually be acquired from 2029. The tender for the vehicles will be released this year.

The battery trains can travel on lines with and without overhead lines. On lines with overhead lines, trains will then receive the electricity directly during the journey via current collectors, however, the power is not only for propulsion but also for charging the batteries for sections of line without overhead lines. In addition, so-called ‘charging islands’ could be set up if the length of the lines without overhead lines exceeds the range of the battery trains. “We want Deutsche Bahn to expand the connection with overhead wire by 2034,” explains Lower Saxony’s Transport Minister Olaf Lies.

The railcars will initially be used in the Heidekreuz network from 2029, according to the Landesnahverkehrsgesellschaft (LNVG). In the other networks, electrification is to take place successively until 2037.

“Starting in 2029, we will successively deploy 102 new multiple-unit trains with battery technology that are emission-free on the road – and thus phase out previous diesel fleets,” Lies said. “This is an important decision for the mobility revolution. The new trains offer more space than the vehicles currently in use. We are thus creating the prerequisite for increasing passenger numbers.”

LNVG had considered both hydrogen-powered trains and battery-electric vehicles as part of a market investigation. But the latter variant was cheaper to operate. The decision not to procure new diesel trains had already been made in 2020. As soon as trains have reached the end of their economic life, they are now to be replaced with battery trains. Trains that are theoretically still operational are to be used on non-electrified lines during the transition.

But there is an exception in Lower Saxony: As reported, 14 hydrogen trains have already been running between Bremerhaven, Cuxhaven and Buxtehude for the Elbe-Weser railways and transport companies since last year. (both in German)


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