THE French government confirmed its support for the development of hydrogen-powered trains for the French regions by allocating a grant of €47m for the project on January 28.   

The grant will support the development of hydrogen technology. Alstom is building 14 Regiolis H2 multiple units that will operate in the participating regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie.  

The hydrogen equipment will be produced by Alstom at its Tarbes plant and the trains will be built at its Reichshoffen plant, which is currently up for sale, with Skoda in exclusive negotiations with the French manufacturer over the purchase.

Alstom says future hydrogen projects with the Régiolis/Coradia Polyvalent platform will be implemented in partnership with the buyer of the site. 

The total cost of the French regions project is estimated to be €130m. The Occitanie region says it will invest €42m to acquire three trains, of which €15m will be for the hydrogen equipment. It plans to trial the trains on the 36km Montréjeau - Luchon line in Haute-Garonne, which has been disused since it was damaged by flooding in 2013.   

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes approved an order for three Régiolis H2 units for use on Clermont-Ferrand - Lyon services in July 2019. The project includes the installation of hydrogen fuelling facilities at Clermont-Ferrand. The trains are due to be delivered in 2022.  

Currently, 50% of the TER fleet is currently diesel-powered while 20% is bi-model (diesel and electric). French National Railways (SNCF) has set a goal of removing diesel operation completely by 2035.