DB Cargo wants to transport hydrogen via rail in the future

Karel Novak, Published on 13/09/2022
DB Cargo wants to transport hydrogen via rail in the future
@Deutsche Bahn AG / Georg Wagner

This concept represents an efficient alternative to pipelines for hydrogen. Because these do not exist yet.


The German government estimates the demand for hydrogen to be around 100 terawatt-hours per year by 2030. By comparison, total electricity consumption in Germany was recently around 580 terawatt-hours per year.

"Hydrogen will play an important role in the future energy mix. There are currently many new initiatives to bring green hydrogen to Germany by sea," says Sigrid Nikutta, head of DB Cargo AG and member of the DB Group's Management Board responsible for freight transport. "We have developed a solution for this that brings hydrogen easily and efficiently from the ports to consumers in the hinterland, especially to our industrial customers. In this way, we are creating a safe and efficient supply chain for German industry."

Hydrogen imported to Germany is usually not gaseous but bound in liquids. This means that it can be transported easily and efficiently by ocean-going vessels. In cooperation with energy suppliers, DB Cargo has developed a concept for transporting it to recipients far from seaports. The hydrogen is left in this liquid bond. This means that the usual tank wagons can be used for rail freight transport. They are already in use today in many cases for the chemical industry. Only when hydrogen is to be used as an energy source is the cargo "cracked" back into its components, the hydrogen separated and used as an energy carrier.

Sigrid Nikutta continues: "The German rail network is an environmental network with more than 35,000 kilometers of track. DB Cargo alone serves more than 2,100 interfaces, customer connections, terminals, and inland ports. Green hydrogen needs green logistics - and we can already offer that today."

DB Cargo also organizes the supply of hydrogen trains from DB Regio, which are currently being tested in practical operation on various lines.

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