Analysis of hydrogen-powered propulsion system alternatives for diesel-electric regional trains

Marko Kapetanović*, Alfredo Nunez, Niels van Oort, Rob M.P. Goverde

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
366 Downloads (Pure)


Non-electrified regional railway lines with typically employed diesel-electric multiple units require alternative propulsion systems to meet increasingly strict emissions regulations. With the aim to identify an optimal alternative to conventional diesel traction, this paper presents a model-based assessment of hydrogen-powered propulsion systems with an internal combustion engine or fuel cells as the prime mover, combined with different energy storage system configurations, based on lithium-ion batteries and/or double-layer capacitors. The analysis encompasses technology identification, design, modelling and assessment of alternative powertrains, explicitly considering case-related constraints imposed by the infrastructure, technical and operational requirements. Using a regional railway network in the Netherlands as a case, we investigate the possibilities in converting a conventional benchmark vehicle and provide the railway undertaking and decision-makers with valuable input for planning of future rolling stock investments. The results indicate the highest fuel-saving potential for fuel cell-based hybrid propulsion systems with lithium-ion battery or a hybrid energy storage system that combines both energy storage system technologies. The two configurations also demonstrate the highest reduction of greenhouse gas emissions compared to the benchmark diesel-driven vehicle, by about 25% for hydrogen produced by steam methane reforming, and about 19% for hydrogen obtained from electrolysis of water with grey electricity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100338
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Rail Transport Planning and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Diesel-electric multiple unit
  • Energy management and control strategy
  • Environmental sustainability
  • Hybridization
  • Hydrogen propulsion systems
  • Regional railways


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