"Fighting climate change is a personal matter."
Interview with project participants Dr. De-Niang Maria Peymandar, Matthias Berghofer, and Jochen Steinbauer for the next generation Mireo Plus H hydrogen train.
How can we solve one of the most pressing problems of our time: climate change? How can we create a more sustainable world and set the course for the next generation? One thing is certain: the mobility sector has a key role to play in combating climate change. To achieve this, more passengers and more goods need to go by rail. But the challenges are formidable: 70 percent of the German rail network is to be electrified by 2025. That's why rail operators are increasingly turning to an alternative drive system – hydrogen.
Why is hydrogen a reasonable alternative? And what motivates the people behind the H2goesRail-project – the people who, with the Mireo Plus H, are designing the next-generation hydrogen train for the next generation?
Matthias Berghofer, Project Manager for Hydrogen-powered Commuter Trains: Fighting climate change is a personal matter for me. I am concerned about the rise in global temperatures and the consequences for future generations – including my own family. That's why innovations like hydrogen-powered trains are so essential now. They open new perspectives and give us the opportunity to make mobility even more sustainable.
Dr. De-Niang Maria Peymandar, Inventor and Design Manager of Fuel Cell Systems: I feel the same way. As a mother, I worry and take the questions of the next generation very seriously. For example: how can we get to work in an environmentally friendly way or what will be the state of the world's climate be? My participation in this project is a small contribution to my child's future. As an inventor, I am focusing on hydrogen because I strongly believe that hydrogen propulsion is the solution we have all been looking for.
My participation in this project is a small contribution to my child's future.
So, is hydrogen really the fuel of the future?
Jochen Steinbauer, Platform Director H2 Technologies for Regional Trains: Oh yes, it is. Hydrogen offers many applications that have not yet been explored. Nothing is more exciting than the upcoming hydrogen economy. I'm very happy to work in this area, and at the same time, help act against climate change. There is an enormous transformation going on: combining H2-Tech with the rail sector is an important and thrilling chance. One that will lead us to new economies and an environmentally friendly world. I am convinced of this.
There is an enormous transformation going on: combining H2-Tech with the rail sector is an important and thrilling chance.
After a year of preparation, May 5 was rollout day. What was that day like for you – seeing what you had planned on the rails in real life?
Dr. De-Niang Maria Peymandar: It was a great day for us when we saw the new Mireo Plus H hydrogen train finally leave the plant. Not only because we put a lot of effort into it as a product, but also because we really tried to figure out what true sustainability will look like in the years to come.
Matthias Berghofer: Exactly. It was a rush of emotion to see our Mireo Plus H leave the plant for the first time. It really is a new generation of hydrogen trains, because it has a range of up to 1,000 km. This means that it will replace diesel vehicles on non-electrified routes in the not-too-distant future. This will bring us a big step forward on the road to sustainable mobility.
Jochen Steinbauer: That's right – with this train, we are driving forward the transformation of the mobility sector. But we didn't start from scratch. With the Mireo, we already had a good platform concept for commuter trains. Now we need to test the hydrogen drive. And we plan to have it in operation from 2024, so that we can quickly give operators the opportunity to convert.
What will happen next?
Matthias Berghofer: Our work will not end after this rollout. On the contrary, now is the time to show that the Mireo Plus H is powerful and can be a real alternative to conventional drives. Leaving a more sustainable world for our children: that's what drives us at work every day. This hydrogen train will prove that it is the next generation train, for the next generation.
Leaving a world for our children that is more sustainable: that’s what drives us at work every day.
Dr. Peymandar, Mr. Berghofer, Mr. Steinbauer: thank you very much for talking to us.