synergesis part of a consortium producing an award winning Study on Hydrogen Infrastruture for Rail in the project HYTRAIL for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure company (OeBB Infrastruktur AG)

The HYTRAIL study was produced by an Austrian consortium led by the Hy CentA research Gmbh and besides myself comprised renowned research institutions like the Institute for Railway Engineering and Transport Economy of the Technical University of Graz, The Institute of Energy Network Technology of the Montan University of Leoben and the Energy Institute at the Johannes Kepler University in Linz. It was focussed on the requirements and boundary conditions of building a Hydrogen Supply Infrastructure for Rail under the specific Austrian conditions considering the OeBB Group’s strategic objective to as a transport provider deliver Zero CO2 Mobility by 2030 and become a fully CO2 neutral operating company by 2050. Among others this led to looking at multi-modal Hydrogen nodes as a base for developing hydrogen infrastructure. The Study was awarded the 2019 Price for the sector “Research and Scientific Studies”of the annual Mobility Prices by the Austrian Orgnization “Verkehrs Club Oesterreich” (partner of the European “Transport & Environment” network).

A short report on the award event can be found here:

The main results of the study are:

  • Looking at economics, the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Hybrid drive technology offers the potential to be competitive with established incumbent technology. Current knowledge supports a forecast that cost parity to diesel may be achieved using renewable electricity in the “Best Case” Scenario for the targeted 2030 timeframe. The long term perspective offers even further potential for lower cost.
  • An imnplementation of hydrogen based technology can contribute substantially to the CO2-free by 2030 strategy of the OeBBs transport divisions including the OeBBs affiliate company OeBB Postbus GmbH, one of the largest bus fleet operators with a fully owned vehicle parc. In addition, significant synergy and CO2-reduction potentials may be generated by using co-generation heat delivered by the electrolysis systems.
  • The production and supply of Hydrogen by the OeBB Infrastructure AG for its operating service affiliates within the group is technically feasible and constitutes a potential business model in the sector coupling of energy and transport.
  • Based on the ranges determined the implementation can be effected within the existing operating regimes and processes without major changes in either rail of bus operations.
  • The analysis of the legal framework shows no show-stoppers, but single aspects may yet require adaption.
  • The necessary plants do exist and the technology is proven and scaling to the required higher levels of energy supply can be implemented with very limited scaling risk using a modularized approach.
  • The relatively low transport volume of hydrogen is dominantly transported by raod trucks and semi-trailers. Upon increased demand a switch to rail and intermodal transport is possible and recommended in particular for medium to long distance supply. (see also the note on the „Bulk Hydrogen on Rail “ study results)