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MILAN, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Italian rail operator Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) has signed an agreement with Europe's biggest gas transport group Snam to study using hydrogen for its transport network.
The two companies said on Wednesday they would set up a working group to assess pilot projects for replacing fossil fuels on the national rail grid with hydrogen.
The agreement is the first of its kind in Europe between a national railway company and an energy group as hydrogen emerges as a possible solution to help meet climate targets.
"Hydrogen rail transport is a key innovation capable of making freight and passenger transport more environmentally sustainable on the remaining railway sections not yet electrified," FS CEO Gianfranco Battisti said.
Hydrogen today is too expensive for widespread use but as costs come down governments round the world are looking to it to replace fossil fuels in sectors where electrification is not an easy solution.
The European Commission has mapped out a plan to expand the production and use of hydrogen to help meet a net zero emissions goal by 2050.
Snam, Europe's biggest gas pipeline operator, has been experimenting with a 10% mix of hydrogen in part of its 33,000-kilometre natural gas network and has said 70% of its natural gas grid is already made up of "hydrogen ready" pipes. (Reporting by Stephen Jewkes; Editing by Mark Potter)
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