RUSSIAN Railways (RZD), Rusnano and Sinara Group will cooperate to develop main line locomotives powered by electrochemical hydrogen fuel cells together with lithium-ion batteries.

A contract between the three companies was signed at the recent St Petersburg International Economic Forum.

RZD is the potential customer for the locomotives while Sinara is the general contractor. Rusnano will be represented by subsidiaries and partners and act as co-contractor for the hydrogen fuel cells and energy storage system based on lithium-ion storage batteries.

The contract covers a wide range of research and development, analysis of necessary infrastructure and development of the technical requirements of the locomotives, as well as the implementation of several activities including the development, production, and testing of the locomotives.

The three companies are also interested in developing a shunting locomotive using a hybrid power plant based on hydrogen fuel cells and domestically produced energy storage units.

"RZD ranks first in the world in terms of energy efficiency in freight transport,” says RZD CEO and chairman of the management board, Mr Oleg Belozerov. “The bulk of all work is done on clean energy sources. RZD accounts for less than 1% of Russia’s total volume of greenhouse emissions. From 2025, we plan to purchase only electric locomotives, as well as locomotives operating on alternative energy sources such as natural gas and hydrogen. This will enable us to further reduce the environmental burden on the environment.” “Hydrogen transport in the rail sector can solve the problems of reducing emissions, noise and vibration,” says Sinara president, Mr Dmitry Pumpyansky. “According to our estimates, prototypes of mainline and shunting locomotives can be created in 2023-2024.”