NAMIBIA’s €9.17m HyRail project is set to proceed with the conversion of two diesel locomotives to hydrogen operation. According to local media, the country’s National Planning Commission (NPC) has finalised the contract to develop Africa’s first hydrogen-powered train.

Partners in the project include TransNamib, Hyphen Technical, CMB Tech and the University of Namibia (UNAM).

“The locomotive conversion is anticipated to commence in the latter part of the year,” says NPC director general, Mr Obeth Kandjoze, “and initial timelines suggest that it will be commissioned before the end of 2025.”

Two U20C locomotives will be acquired from TransNamib and Traxtion Sheltam for conversion to operate either as conventional diesels or in hydrogen mode, using a dedicated green hydrogen fuel tender.

Commissioning is set to begin in July 2025, with revenue operation planned to start in November 2025. If successful, the project is likely to be rolled out to cover Namibia’s fleet of 40 diesel locomotives, with other sub-Saharan Africa railways also expected to convert their diesel fleets.

HyRail Namibia aims to use the hydrogen-powered locomotives to transport bulk commodities, including copper concentrate, cement, manganese, iron ore and steel.