Innovative Rail Transport: Hydrogen Projects at the Hydrogen Forum in Hamburg (EEHH)

Yesterday, Hanna Naoumis, Team Lead Communication, and Stephanie Kratzer, Consultant at cruh21, had the opportunity to attend the Renewable Energy Cluster Hamburg's forum. The event provided insights into the latest developments and projects involving the use of hydrogen in rail transport. Two projects were presented that could shape the future of emission-free transportation: “sH2unter@ports” and “H2GoesRail”.

sH2unter@ports – H2 Shunting Locomotives for Emission Reduction in Port Areas

Matthias Eiden from the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) presented the project “sH2unter@ports”. This ambitious initiative aims to reduce climate-relevant emissions in port areas through the use of hydrogen-powered shunting locomotives. The project is part of a funded joint project implemented by six partners: Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (evb), the Smart Mobility Institute at the University of Applied Sciences Bremerhaven, the Institute for Energy and Recycling Management at the University of Applied Sciences Bremen GmbH (IEKrW), the rail vehicle manufacturer Alstom, the Hamburg Port Authority, and led by bremenports.

The “sH2unter@ports” project comprehensively examines the requirements for implementing hydrogen shunting locomotives in the port areas of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. It considers not only operational and infrastructural requirements of the new technology but also safety aspects. A detailed analysis of the performance profiles of typical locomotive trips in both ports was conducted to provide a suitable basis for the dimensioning of the hydrogen shunting locomotive.

The project is funded under the National Innovation Program Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV). The discussion focused on the feasibility and efficiency of H2 shunting locomotives, ensuring the production process is not disrupted, and the necessary refueling infrastructure. However, railway companies currently show a cautious attitude toward switching to low-emission solutions, as hybrid locomotives are considered the standard, and the flexibility of refueling hydrogen locomotives is seen as unattractive.

H2GoesRail – Hydrogen Supply and Operation of Hydrogen Trains

Another exciting project was presented by Marius Hartmann from Lhyfe Germany GmbH and Lennert Fink from DB Energie GmbH. The “H2GoesRail” project is a collaboration between Deutsche Bahn and Lhyfe, aiming to develop and operate a hydrogen refueling station for trains.

This project plans to build a pilot hydrogen refueling station on Deutsche Bahn’s operational site in Tübingen. This station will produce green hydrogen on-site, which will then be tested in a hydrogen train in regular Deutsche Bahn operations. The hydrogen is produced using a PEM electrolyzer, supplemented by a compressor and control technology. While Lhyfe is responsible for the construction and operation of the facility, Deutsche Bahn will operate the hydrogen refueling station and manage the energy supply.

The unique aspect of this project is the integration of hydrogen production directly at the track, enabling rapid refueling as efficiently as with diesel. Additionally, the hydrogen is produced on-site using electricity from the overhead line and stored in mobile storage containers. By coupling battery storage and the overhead line, additional benefits such as peak load shaving and stabilization of frequency and voltage can be achieved.


These two projects, “sH2unter@ports” and “H2GoesRail”, are pioneering initiatives that have the potential to make rail transport more sustainable and emission-free. They demonstrate how significant progress can be achieved through innovative technologies and collaboration between various industry and academic partners.

The discussions and presentations at the Renewable Energy Cluster Hamburg's forum made it clear that while the path to a climate-friendly transport infrastructure is challenging, it is achievable through targeted research and development and the cooperation of various partners.

We thank the speakers and organizers for this inspiring day!

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