Saudi Arabian Railways, in partnership with French manufacturer Alstom, will begin to operate the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train in Riyadh later this month.

first tests of Alstom's Coradia iLint Hydrogen train between Reignac-sur-Indre and Loches, central France.

A picture taken on Feb. 1, 2023, shows the first tests of Alstom’s Coradia iLint Hydrogen train between Reignac-sur-Indre and Loches, central France. – GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images

Jack Dutton. October 9, 2023

Trial runs will begin for the first-ever hydrogen-powered passenger train in Riyadh next week, Saudi Arabia’s Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud said Sunday.

“It will be on trial for next week, hopefully for the next few months. We will have the first hydrogen train in the Middle East,” Prince Abdulaziz said at the UN’s MENA Climate Week in Riyadh.

French train manufacturer Alstom’s Coradia iLint will travel 10 to 20 kilometers on SAR’s East Network’s Line 1 or Line 2 in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabian Railways, in partnership with Alstom, will operate and demonstrate the world’s first hydrogen-powered passenger train. SAR and Alstom signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2022 to develop hydrogen infrastructure for the desert kingdom. 

Although hydrogen trains have been operating in parts of Europe since 2022, they are not passenger trains. 

The project will help Saudi Arabia reach its Vision 2030 goals, which intend to help diversify its economy away from a reliance on oil and reduce its national carbon emissions.

“Driven by emission-free energy generation, the hydrogen train offers a myriad of benefits, making it a compelling choice for sustainable energy solutions. Its positive impact spans across the environment, economy and the future of generations to come,” said Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of SAR, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Sunday. 

Mohamed Khalil, managing director of Alstom in Saudi Arabia, called the train “a remarkable milestone” that is “driving innovation” in the rail industry. 

“Hydrogen trains hold immense potential in reducing carbon emissions and providing a viable alternative to diesel trains for non-electrified lines,” Khalil said. “We are committed to working with SAR in their drive to support the kingdom’s engagements on clean energy and a net-zero target by 2060.”

Other initiatives announced at MENA Climate Week included the kingdom launching a greenhouse gas accreditation and offsetting scheme, SPA reported Monday. 

The mechanism “enables entities across the kingdom to meet their goals to reduce and remove emissions, ensuring collective action in our journey toward a sustainable and low-emission future,” SPA said.

The Gulf state has set a target of achieving net zero emissions by 2060.

Read more: