China’s hydrogen ambitions chug on as train trial aims to keep green agenda on track


by Frank Chen at

China’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train has reportedly hit the normal operating speed of mainstream commuter rail systems – but without any commuters on board.

And there is still a long way to go in its bid to reach speeds attained on the country’s vast high-speed rail lines that keep getting faster.

Nonetheless, state media said the milestone was evidence of the nation’s advancements in green technology and a step toward the commercialisation of cleaner transport options. The progress also comes as the world’s largest carbon emitter cranks up efforts to harness the clean-burning fuel ahead of a self-imposed deadline to peak the nation’s emissions by 2030 while transitioning to a greener, low-carbon economy.

The four-car train was said to have accelerated to 160km/h (99mph) in a trial run on Thursday at a facility of state-owned train maker CRRC in the northeastern city of Changchun, Jilin province. It boasts hydrogen fuel batteries and supercapacitors said to be capable of travelling at least 1,000km.

For context, the high-speed rail line from Beijing to Shanghai stretches 1,318km.