On 4 May 2023, Federal Transport Minister Wissing handed over funding decisions totalling 81.6 million euros for public transport projects in the Euskirchen / Düren region at a meeting in Düren. These funds are to be used for the conversion to climate-neutral propulsion systems on both road and rail. Funding will be provided for the purchase of 17 trains powered by hydrogen and fuel cells, which the local transport association “go.Rheinland” will procure in cooperation with the districts of Düren, Euskirchen and Heinsberg. In addition, this package also includes the development of a regional hydrogen infrastructure with a refuelling system and hydrogen production through electrolysis; the recipients of the funding here are the “Beteiligungsgesellschaft Kreis Düren” and HyDN GmbH.
In addition, Regionalverkehr Köln (RVK) receives funding for a public hydrogen filling station at its depot in Mechernich (district of Euskirchen). And here, too, the hydrogen is to be produced on site with an electrolyser. These funds come not least from the “Coal Investment Programme”.
Both electrolysers, it should be explicitly mentioned, will produce regenerative and thus “green” hydrogen.
The 17 railcars are to be used gradually from 2026 on the lines Düren – Heimbach and Düren – Linnich of the Rurtalbahn as well as Euskirchen – Düren, the so-called “Bördebahn”. The Euskirchen – Düren connection has recently been reactivated. The use of hydrogen trains on these three lines is intended to show that operation with alternative drives on lines in rural areas is certainly possible and makes sense, especially if electrification with overhead lines is not economically feasible. Transport Minister Wissing: “We need hydrogen-based buses and trains where we reach limits with electrification. Regionalverkehr Köln and the district of Düren are sending a clear signal: they stand for real progress on rail and road.”
Today, Regionalverkehr Köln already has the largest fleet of hydrogen buses in Europe, with a good 70 vehicles. By the end of the year, the number of 100 will be exceeded. Manufacturers of the fuel cell buses are Solaris and Van Hool, soon to be joined by buses from Northern Ireland, namely from Wrightbus of the type “GB Kite”. The hydrogen buses are currently stationed at the depots in Bergisch Gladbach, Brühl, Hürth, Meckenheim, Wermelskirchen and Wesseling, which either have a hydrogen filling station nearby or are supplied by hydrogen tankers. Soon Mechernich will be added as a “hydrogen depot” and will be the first RVK station to produce its own hydrogen.11.05.2023