A new (and cleaner) passenger train has hit the tracks north of the border.
The Train de Charlevoix, a hydrogen-powered locomotive in Quebec, is billed as the first of its kind in North America — running with zero emissions. That’s important news, as diesel trains in the U.S. alone choo-chug their way to about 38 million tons of air pollution a year, according to the journal Nature.
“This technology will provide an alternative to diesel,” Alstom Americas President Michael Keroullé said in a press release, touting its ability to “provide more sustainable mobility solutions” already being realized in Europe.
What’s more, a trip on the scenic route, which includes unique tour options, starts at less than $75.
Train de Charlevoix was developed by France-based Alstom, the Quebec government, and other partners, according to the service’s website. The engine started running June 17 and will carry passengers until Sept. 30 as part of its debut route from Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul.
A video of the train shows it passing through scenic countryside along the St. Lawrence River during a 90-minute route. The scenery includes a nearly 300-foot-tall waterfall. The Smithsonian reports that the locomotive can reach 85 miles per hour.
The environmental benefits could be great. Hydrogen creates only water vapor when used for fuel, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Though about 95% of hydrogen is made from reforming natural gas, the agency also notes.
While new in the Americas, the technology has been around for a while in Europe. Alstom officials have said that their hydrogen trains have traveled 136,000 miles across that continent, where engines zoom by at 140 miles per hour.
“Promising innovations such as Alstom’s will not only help us achieve our ambitious climate change targets, but they will also be able to be exported elsewhere in the world,” Quebec Premier François Legault said in the press release from Alstom.
Join our free newsletter for weekly updates on the coolest innovations improving our lives and saving our planet.