Freight trains currently have to pass through the city above ground. / salvador salas

Malaga Port plans to use hydrogen-powered locomotives to move freight

The project the Port Authority is currently working on will also make it easier to move the railway tracks which pass through the city underground

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

Hydrogen is making headway as a sustainable form of mobility technology and Malaga's Port Authority has spent months studying the idea of using hydrogen-powered trains to move goods to and from the port.

“We are strongly committed to using hydrogen,” said the president of the Port Authority, Carlos Rubio. “We are contemplating a type of shuttle with a hydrogen-powered engine, to hook up the wagons at Los Prados and bring them to the quays. Hydrogen technology for trains already exists, although at a commercial level it is still in its infancy, but it is evolving very fast,” he said.

The director of the Port, José Moyano, added that Alstom has tested and is already selling engines of this type for passenger services. “The future of freight movement in Malaga Port lies with this method: a hydrogen engine to act as a means of connection between Los Prados and the quays,” he said.

Move the tracks underground

The railway facilities at Los Prados are considered key to the future of logistics in Malaga, because they can act as temporary storage where loading and unloading can be carried out.

In the medium term, diesel is going to have to be abandoned as a system of propulsion and electric traction is not a solution either, because there are no power lines within the port area.

The use of hydrogen engines would also facilitate the project to move the railway lines which currently pass through the city underground, because large gauges would no longer be required and nor would there be any type of contamination in the Port or in the city. At present the trains have to pass over level crossings to get to and from the port, and although any operator can request access and receive permission within 24 hours, this is not an ideal method of moving freight.

Another benefit would be the ease of connection with Antequera Dry Port, where the production of clean hydrogen through renewable sources, like wind and solar power, and its distribution to future lorry and train fleets, will be one of the advantages of the future megahub, for which the works are already at an advanced stage.

“We have been working on this for several months and we are about to prepare the report so we can apply for EU funding. It is a completely sustainable solution, we are very clear about that,” said Rubio.