Hamburg is the second largest city in Germany, with a population of 1.8 million inhabitants (2013). The city is a signatory of the Covenant of Mayors, and has set itself the ambitious targets of 40% CO2 emissions reduction by 2020 compared to its 1990 levels and a 80% reduction by 2050, targets well beyond the 20% emissions reduction target by 2020 set by the EU. Hamburg was awarded European Green Capital 2011 for its pro-active environmental policy, which integrates the mobility dimension. On the Green Capital website, Hamburg is praised for its “high environmental standards and good performance levels in terms of […] public transport”. Hamburg’s bus network is one of the largest in Germany with a 13.759 long network and 660 bus lines, 431 million passengers use the bus network every year (2013). The metrobusline M5 is one of the most frequented routes with some 60,000 passengers per day! In Hamburg, 17% of all trips are done by public transport. The figure rises to 34% for commuting (in 2013 – source HVV).

Hamburg’s “climate change masterplan”( Masterplan Klimaschutz ) adopted in 2013, promotes inter modality, with an increased use and quality of public transport, walking and cycling and indicates that all new buses purchased in Hamburg as of 2020 shall be emissions free, while the entire bus fleet of the city will be emissions free by 2050.


Hamburger HOCHBAHN AG, founded in 1911, operates the underground system and large parts of the bus system in the city. It is part of the Hamburger Verkehrsverbund – HVV (“Hamburg Public Transport Association”), a triple-level structure which organises public transport in the city and surrounding areas. (More on the HVV here).  HOCHBAHN employs some 4,500 employees). The company owns a fleet of some 800 buses of different lengths, up to the 26 double-articulated (“XXL”) buses (25 m long)! (More on the XXL buses here). The buses travel 130,000 kms daily on over 100 lines. They cover a distance of 48.5 million kms yearly.

Hamburg, together with its public transport company HOCHBAHN has become the laboratory of innovative public transport solutions, recognised as such across Germany and at international level. HOCHBAHN dedicated climate protection policy includes the deployment and evaluation of alternative powertrains for urban buses: the company has been testing innovative technologies for over, with its first fuel cell bus tested in Christmas 1999. Hamburg is the first city worldwide operating a line exclusively with low carbon and ultra-low carbon buses: the innovation line 109. More on this in the next paragraphs.

HySOLUTIONS GmbH is the official partner within CHIC and an affiliate company of HOCHBAHN; it is in charge of the development of electromobility applications in Hamburg (especially hydrogen and fuel cell technologies) which includes the data analysis of the buses operating on the innovation line. The company is involved with hydrogen and fuel cell technologies for over a decade, leading Hamburg’s activities as part of the CUTE and HyFLEET:CUTE projects, and now the CHIC project.

Hamburg, pioneer in fuel cell bus trials: CUTE and HyFLEET:CUTE:

Hamburg is a front runner in trialling fuel cell buses: Between 2003 and 2009, up to 9 EvoBus fuel cell buses have been operated, carrying 1.9 million passengers over 700,000 kms. More information here.

Fuel cell bus operation in Hamburg today – the innovation line 109

Four 12 m EvoBus fuel cell buses are in operation since 2011.  The functioning of the buses is explained in this video. Two 18 m Solaris battery electric buses with fuel cells as range extender started theiroperation on the innovation line 109 in January 2015. The functioning of the Solaris buses is explained in this video. The buses have a 400 km range and operate between 8 and 16 hours daily on the innovation line 109.

Hamburg is the first city in Germany to start an “innovation bus line” in which exclusively low -carbon and ultra-low carbon technologies are operated, carrying over 15,000 passengers daily on the 9.3 km long route between the city centre and the northern part (Altersdorf). Data are collected to compare and evaluate the different technologies under the same conditions of operation.

Innovation line 109

Workshop of the fuel cell buses

A completely new workshop was built for the fuel cell buses. More information on CHIC workshops here

HRS characteristics

  • The Hamburg station is a dual public refuelling station which can both refuel a bus at 350 bar and a fuel cell car at 700 bar.
  • It is located at “HafenCity”, which is a central area in Hamburg. It was built by Linde and entered in service in 2012
  • The station has a daily capacity of production of 700kg hydrogen, which corresponds to the refuelling of 20 buses or 200 cars
  • The hydrogen refuelling station shows a high level of availability (>95%)
  • The buses are refuelled within 10 minutes in average

H2 source/production

50% on-site generation (hydrogen produced from the electrolysis of water – green hydrogen), 50% external supply (hydrogen as by product from the chemical industry)

Financing sources

The fuel cell bus project in Hamburg is co-funded under the NaBuZ demo programme (“Sustainable bus system of the future”) of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), a programme developed by NOW GmbH (National Organisation Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology)’s National Innovation Programme (NIP)

Next steps

Further fuel cell buses are expected to join Hamburg’s fleet in the coming years: indeed, the mayor of Hamburg, Mr Olaf Scholz has clearly indicated the city’s strong commitment in fuel cell bus technologies at the FCH JU Stakeholder Forum which took place on 12 November 2014, receiving symbolically the Letter of Understanding signed by major bus OEMs stating their intention to deploy 500-1000 fuel cell buses in the coming years. On 23 June 2015, at the occasion of the TEN-T days, HOCHBAHN  signed a Letter of Understanding along with some 30 cities/operators, stating its readiness and willingness to integrated fuel cell buses in its bus fleet.

Local dissemination materials

This video describes the innovation line.

Source: city of Hamburg, HOCHBAHN, HVVhySOLUTIONS and project’s results


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