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Poland’s first hydrogen locomotive gets green light from regulator

The President of Poland’s Office of Rail Transport (Urzad Transportu Kolejowego) has issued a certificate to enable the operation of the first hydrogen-powered locomotive in the country, developed by Polish rail company, PESA Bydgoszcz in collaboration with PKN Orlen (7 June).

“I am glad that I could sign the approval for the first hydrogen-powered locomotive produced in Poland. This case was special because both European and national regulations do not specify requirements for hydrogen drive in a railway vehicle. Therefore, it was a very interesting experience for UTK. I hope that the number of hydrogen-powered rail vehicles will increase, because thanks to this, the railway becomes more environmentally friendly,” said Dr Eng. Ignacy Góra, President of the Office of Rail Transport.

The four-axle locomotive is powered by two hydrogen cells with a total capacity of 170 kilowatts (kV). Through the traction battery, they power four asynchronous traction motors with a power of 4 x 180 kW, which allows for a speed of up to 90 km/h. Hydrogen is stored in tanks with a total capacity of 175 kg. One refuelling allows for 24-hour shunting of the locomotive, PESA said.

The SM42-6Dn shunting locomotive was first presented by PESA Bydgoszcz at the TRAKO 2021 International Railway Fair. In December 2022, the country’s first hydrogen rail successfully completed PESA’s internal assessment, which included a special presentation with the refuelling process and test drives on the experimental track in the Polish southwestern town of Żmigród.

The special presentation last year was attended by Polish and foreign freight carriers. “The presence of several dozen representatives of cargo and intermodal carriers confirms the interest in the project of our hydrogen shunting locomotive. In addition to the modernisation of the SM42-6Dn, we will offer customers in the Polish and European markets new hydrogen locomotives. Work on these projects as part of the zero-emission locomotive and passenger vehicle platform is already underway,” said Krzysztof Zdziarski, President of the Management Board of PESA in December 2022.

The company is now working on a hydrogen-powered passenger vehicle, which will be equipped with hydrogen cells and a pantograph. This unique design allows the vehicle to utilise traction power from electrified lines and hydrogen power on non-electrified sections. This type of vehicle is well-suited for regional carriers, and several local governments have expressed their interest in it, PESA said.

PESA also plans to provide carriers with infrastructure for refuelling and hydrogen supply. “Hence, among others, cooperation with PKN Orlen or the establishment of a team that conducts talks with the Marshal Offices about the concept of building hydrogen eco-systems, including renewable energy sources, electrolysers, hydrogen storage and refuelling stations, which could be used not only by rail vehicles but also by the entire transport public,” the company said via a press release.

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