Deutsche Bahn is increasingly looking for alternatives to diesel vehicles

Deutsche Bahn is currently testing a battery train in Baden-Württemberg. In the medium term, such towing vehicles can be an alternative to diesel trains on routes without overhead wires.

Climate neutral: a challenge for rail

Deutsche Bahn aims to be climate neutral by 2040. Already today, approximately 90 percent of transport services, both in passenger and freight transport, are electrically and largely supplied with green energy. However, the remaining 10 percent is proving to be a challenge as many routes have not been electrified at all and will not be in the near future. A total of 450 lines in the German railway network have been served exclusively with diesel trains to date.

Battery operation on the rail

Deutsche Bahn has been testing a battery train in Baden-Württemberg for three months. †The train is well received by both passengers and employees”, according to the positive interim balance of the representative of the railway company for the Southwest, Thorsten Krenz.

The test is of strategic importance for rail, as battery trains can be a good alternative to diesel vehicles throughout Germany. In January, the first fully approved battery train from manufacturer Alstom was put on the rails. As a test project, the train will run on the so-called Gäubahn between Herrenberg in Swabia and Eutingen im Gäu. He also spends weekends in Bavaria between Gunzenhausen in the Franconian Lake District and Pleinfeld. The trial runs until May.

There are other alternatives

Battery trains are not the only alternative to diesel vehicles that Deutsche Bahn is considering. According to the group, alternative fuels could also be considered. These would have the advantage that they can be used directly in diesel trains without conversion. The focus is on the biofuel HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil), which is made from biological residual and waste products. On balance, HVO causes 90 percent less CO2 emissions than diesel, but electric drives cannot hide, provided they run on green energy. A hydrogen train would also be a possible alternative.

As early as the mid-1950s, the railways were using battery powered rail cars, even on a larger scale. These trainsets were in use until the mid-1990s before being phased out.

Deutsche Bahn is increasingly looking for alternatives to diesel vehicles