Traveling by train is generally considered to be particularly environmentally friendly. That’s not wrong either. Deutsche Bahn could strike an even better balance, especially when it comes to climate protection. Because while the trains in the Netherlands are exclusively supplied with wind energy, in Germany coal-fired electricity is still used. In addition, the route network in this country is not yet fully electrified. Diesel locomotives are therefore usually used on routes without overhead wires. There have been plans for further electrification for some time now. In practice, however, enlargement is very slow. Meanwhile, other technical solutions are becoming increasingly important. A regional fuel cell train is already being tested in Lower Saxony. In Schleswig-Holstein, on the other hand, trains with built-in batteries will be used in the future. These are charged in larger train stations and then provide the necessary propulsion on the non-electrified parts of the route.
No diesel locomotive from Flensburg to Kiel
According to the manufacturer, a fully charged battery is sufficient for about eighty kilometers of driving. This would be enough to safely bridge the non-electrified routes. However, Deutsche Bahn is not responsible for its use. Nordbahn won the international tender for the local Schleswig-Holstein transport association. This is a partially private competitor that is already active in the region. In the future, the battery-powered trains will be deployed on both the north-south and east-west routes. This will make it possible in the future to drive emission-free from Flensburg to Kiel. According to initial calculations, about ten million liters of diesel could be saved annually by doing without diesel locomotives. This corresponds to approximately 26,000 tons of CO2 emissions. By 2030, train traffic in the northernmost federal state of Germany must be completely climate neutral.
Potential followers follow the project with interest
However, the Nordbahn scored not only in the area of climate protection in the tender. On the contrary, more comfort for the passengers was also promised. There should be more legroom and more comfortable seats, among other things. Other federal states are likely to follow the project with interest. Because with the tender specifically for battery trains, the country has entered new territory. In fact, the tender was launched in 2016. The fact that the associated contracts could only now be signed shows that there were a number of pitfalls to be aware of, both technologically and legally. But now the partners involved know for sure that they can realize the idea. About forty percent of the route network in Schleswig-Holstein would therefore no longer need to be electrified for the time being. If battery train use proves successful, other states could follow suit and advertise non-electrified routes accordingly.