JR Tokai Aims to Replace Diesel Engines with Hydrogen-power; Vehicle Tests to Begin as Soon as Next Fiscal Year

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
JR Tokai sign

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) plans to develop zero-emission hydrogen-powered trains with the goal of replacing existing diesel ones.

On Thursday the company announced the plan to use hydrogen-fueled engines in trains, which be the first in the world.

Their plans to replace diesel trains with hydrogen-powered ones would reduce their carbon dioxide emissions to net zero.

JR Tokai plans to team up with Tokyo-based startup iLabo Corp. to develop a hydrogen hybrid that combines engine generation and battery storage.

Tests are planned to start at a research facility in Aichi Prefecture in fiscal 2024 or later.

The firm will also promote the development of fuel cells that generate electricity through a chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.

Toyota Motor Corp., which sells electric vehicles, will supply batteries to JR Tokai.

Non-electrified mountain railways like the Takayama Line, which runs through Gifu and Toyama prefectures, are currently diesel-powered.

About 5% of JR Tokai’s annual CO2 emissions come from diesel trains, the firm said.