SPANISH operator Renfe has announced that it will retender contracts to procure 72 Medium Distance and Cercanías trains in order to seek improved energy efficiency and the use of clean energy, including hydrogen, in the fleets, which will be deployed on non-electrified lines.

The prospective contracts are worth around €1.3bn and represent 22% of the operator’s fleet renewal plans, which commenced in 2019. Renfe has already placed orders for 248 trains worth around €2.7bn. Renfe says the new tenders will be issued in “the coming months.”

The previous tenders issued by Renfe did not exclude the possibility of purchasing diesel trains. However, Renfe says the procurement of diesel trains would be contrary to its social and environmental responsibilities. It adds that the trains’ useful life would be limited due to impending limitations on greenhouse gas emissions and the use of fossil fuels by both the Spanish and European governments by 2050. The operator also believes the revised procurement plans could benefit from national and European funding opportunities.

Renfe referred to the potential of hydrogen trains to deliver its sustainable commitments. During a press conference on May 6, Alstom’s president for Spain, Mr Leopoldo Maestu, highlighted the potential of hydrogen rolling stock and encouraged the Spanish government to use Covid recovery funds to support a project to commercialise hydrogen rolling stock within the next 24 to 30 months. Maestu said tests of the technology could begin in Spain in six months.

Alstom was selected along with Stadler for a €2.445bn contract to supply 211 Cercanías trains in March. CAF is also supplying 37 1000mm-gauge trains under a €258m contract signed in January.

Renfe says it has reduced its carbon footprint by 90% in recent years and it advocates the use of green energy in its facilities and to power its trains. Renfe acquired around 2.5TWh of certified green electricity in 2019, represents 100% of the company's electricity consumption. This strategy will enable the operator to reduce CO2 emissions by 7 million tonnes by 2030.

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