Hydrogen train coming next year


Namibia will see the introduction of the first hydrogen powered train next year, a first for Africa. The National Planning Commission announced this week that after extensive negotiations, the contract has been finalized on the HyRail project.

The project is spearheaded by TransNamib, Hyphen Technical and CMB Tech. and includes the University of Namibia (UNAM) as an academic partner.

The project is expected to demonstrate the ‘use case’ of hydrogen in the rail transportation sector, in the form of dual fuel converted train.

“The locomotive conversion is anticipated to commence in the latter part of the year, and initial timelines suggest that it will be commissioned before the end of 2025,” the commission said.

In November last year, CEO of Hyphen Technical, Konrad Boshoff told Observer Money that the project was at feasibility and concept stage.

He said the funds for the project will be raised through the grant, secured loans from partners and from capital from shareholders of the project company. The total cost of the entire project is €9.17 million including all work packages for the pilot and related research projects.

With commissioning expected to commence in July 2025, where the locomotive will be operated with GH2 for testing and an in-service trial. Planned start of revenue operations will be in November 2025, subject to dependencies.

Boshoff said two U20C locomotives will be converted and operated. One locomotive will be acquired from TransNamib and one locomotive will be acquired from Traxtion Sheltam.

The cargo that will be transported includes various commodities the flow between Kranzberg and Walvis Bay, including fuel, copper Concentrate, sulfuric acid, grain and smaller volume commodities.

HyRail Namibia is expected to provide a unique project to demonstrate, showcase and introduce new emissions reduction technology, using GH2 to substitute diesel on rail transport.

It is said to have immense potential to assist in revitalising rail transport and position it as financially attractive and emissions reducing service compared to alternatives and play its important role in economic and industrial development in Namibia.

Boshoff said future expansion of HyRail Namibia will ensure off-take of GH2 along the rail network of Namibia and enable cheaper and greener transport of freight and commodities by rail.

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