Russian Railways to Launch Hydrogen Train in 2024

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said more than 9 billion rubles will be allocated from the state budget for the development of hydrogen energy in the next three years. 

By 2024, Russian Railways is preparing to launch the first hydrogen train on Sakhalin. The project is being implemented jointly with Transmashholding JSC and Rosatom State Corporation. In addition, the company intends to launch hydrogen locomotives in the non-electrified areas of the Eastern landfill. This project is being implemented jointly with Sinara – Transport Machines JSC and the Rusnano Group.

The implementation of both projects is related to the construction of hydrogen production facilities and transport and refueling infrastructure. The development of hydrogen projects is in the area of ​​special attention of the Russian government – in the next three years it intends to allocate more than 9 billion rubles for the development of hydrogen energy.

According to various forecasts, in 30 years hydrogen will occupy about 15% of the final energy consumption in the world energy sector. In August this year, the government approved the Concept for the Development of Hydrogen Energy. The concept is based on the active participation of Russia in the development of the hydrogen industry. On October 15, at the strategic session on its development, held as part of the Energy Week, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said that more than 9 billion rubles will be allocated from the state budget for the development of hydrogen energy in the next three years. They will go to the development and testing of domestic technologies for the production, transportation and storage of hydrogen. Russian Railways is actively involved in the development of Russian hydrogen projects.

Green light to hydrogen


According to the Atlas of Russian projects for the production of low-carbon and carbon-free hydrogen, published by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, there will now be 32 points of hydrogen production in Russia. Three of them will be created by Rosatom State Corporation in the Kaliningrad, Murmansk and Sakhalin regions. In the Kaliningrad region, Rosatom intends to build a plant for the production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water. The plant will receive “green” electricity from a wind farm. The launch of the project is scheduled for 2024. 

In the same year, it is planned to launch another electrolysis project in the Murmansk region. It will be powered by electricity from the Kola NPP, which has a capacity of 1.76 GW with the possibility of generating additional 3.5 billion kWh per year. In 2025, the company plans to launch hydrogen production on Sakhalin using steam methane reforming with CO2 capture. This project will be carried out jointly with the French AirLiquide. By 2030, the annual production volume should be 100 thousand tons of hydrogen.

The Sakhalin hydrogen production project is being implemented under an agreement signed in 2019 by Russian Railways, TMH, Rosatom and the regional government, according to which Russian Railways will assist in the development and production of hydrogen rolling stock, provide infrastructure for testing and controlled operation, Rosatom is responsible for the production and supply of hydrogen fuel, the organization and operation of refueling infrastructure systems, the Sakhalin Oblast administration is responsible for ensuring the conditions for the project implementation, and TMH manufactures rolling stock. In September, at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, the parties to the agreement signed a protocol on organizing the movement of hydrogen trains on Sakhalin.

In June this year, during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Oleg Belozerov, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of Russian Railways, Sergey Kulikov, Chairman of the Management Board of Rusnano Management Company, and Dmitry Pumpyansky, President of the Sinara Group, signed an agreement on cooperation in the development of mainline locomotives based on hydrogen fuel cells using lithium-ion batteries. Russian Railways acted as the customer for the locomotives, Sinara – Transport Machines holding – the general contractor, Rusnano – the co-contractor in terms of hydrogen fuel cells, energy storage systems based on lithium-ion storage batteries and other innovative technological solutions.

Hydrogen trains and locomotives


Photo: Siemens Mobility Gmbh
According to Oleg Nazarov, Deputy Head of the Technical Policy Department of Russian Railways, the operation of hydrogen trains is planned to be organized in Sakhalin – on the Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Kholmsk, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Poronaysk and Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk – Korsakov sections with a maximum distance between end points of up to 290 km. The average daily mileage of trains will be more than 300 km. The annual consumption of hydrogen should be about 230 tons. The commissioning of the first hydrogen train is scheduled for 2024.

According to Oleg Nazarov, it is too early to talk about plans to use hydrogen locomotives. So far, experts are making preliminary assessments of the possibility of their creation to ensure freight traffic on the sections of the Eastern polygon Tynda – Taksimo and Tynda – Komsomolsk-on-Amur with trains weighing up to 7100 tons. 

The power plant of such a hydrogen locomotive should be at least 7 thousand kW, and the cruising range should be at least 1500 km. According to expert estimates, the approximate hydrogen consumption to ensure the projected volume of freight traffic in 2030 in the amount of 150 million tons per year can be up to 420 thousand tons (for a fleet of 700 main-line freight locomotives). 

“There are no such locomotives in the world yet, so we are also considering transferring shunting locomotives to hydrogen fuel,” said Mr. Nazarov. – It is expected that the complex research, development and development work, including the necessary tests, may take from five to eight years. It should be borne in mind that it will also take no less time to create hydrogen production plants in the region ”.

Andrey Zarucheyskiy, Deputy Director of the Research Center “Train Traction” JSC “VNIIZhT”, said that, according to the approved roadmap for the development of hydrogen traction, in November it is planned to complete the development of a preliminary feasibility study for hydrogen locomotives and general technical requirements for them. In addition, JSC VNIIZhT together with JSC VNIKTI is developing proposals for organizing a hydrogen cluster of JSC Russian Railways for testing hydrogen technologies offered for rail transport.


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