AECOM and Iberdrola plan hydrogen railway in Italy

Image of a blue hydrogen train

Conversion of Apennine railway to green hydrogen is being supported by European Clean Hydrogen Alliance.

Global engineering giants AECOM, and Spanish renewables leaders Iberdrola, have signed a partnership to convert an Italian railway into the first green hydrogen line.

The Apennine railway project has been selected for investment by the European Clean Hydrogen Alliance as part of its work to drive green innovation. The region has struggled through earthquakes in 2009, 2016 and 2017, so improved innovation is seen as a path to its revival.

The Apennine line runs for 300km through Toscana, UmbrĂ­a, Lacio and Abruzos. It is presently dependent on diesel locomotives, many of which have reached the end of their expected lifespans. So when faced with the need to replace them, hydrogen conversion is seen as an efficient alternative to expensive electrification, and a green alternative to new diesel trains.

Lorenzo Costantini, country manager for Iberdrola in Italy, explained: “It is an opportunity to put our skills at the service of this ambitious project which, in addition to having a major environmental impact, is also intended to have a significant economic and social impact, supporting areas affected by seismic events in recent years.”

The agreement between AECOM and Iberdrola includes regional sustainable development specialists Ancitel Energia e Ambiente, and green hydrogen solutions firm, Cinque International. It also commits them all to collaboration on other Italian projects too.

One of those additional projects will be the evaluation of technical viability for converting the Ferrovia dei Due Mare (Two Seas Railway) to green hydrogen. This project connects Fiumincino and Rome airports with San Benedetto del Tronto, so conversion to green hydrogen would position Rome as the global leader in green hydrogen powered trains.

As countries begin to adjust to a world transformed by the devastating impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, green hydrogen is benefiting from growing attention in countries with strong renewable sectors.

This more sustainable approach to infrastructure is something AECOM director of sustainable development, Robert Spencer, will be discussing next week at the Global Infrastructure Conference and as Media partners for the event, the Infrastructure Global team will be there to report live on what he and other industry leaders have to say.