Powering a Streetcar Revival

Hydrogen power is one way to untether trolleys

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Streetcars attract wealthier riders than buses and inspire new, high-density property development. Over a dozen municipalities around the world have restarted and extended streetcar lines. And some 50 cities in the United States are planning new lines.

Streetcars need unsightly overhead electricity lines running along city streets. But powering trolleys with hydrogen fuel cells could be a way to eliminate those wires, and save cities millions of dollars per kilometer. About a quarter of the total cost of streetcar rail construction goes toward installing the power lines.