The prospect of hydrogen-powered trains running on UK rail lines as early as 2022 has moved a step closer after the unveiling of the design of a new train.
Hydrogen is an important cog in the decarbonisation of Britain’s transport network; the government has set a target of eliminating diesel rolling stock from railways by 2040.
In addition, the government has invested in funding to support hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, to make this a reality.
In this context, hydrogen-powered trains are an ideal solution for those routes that won’t benefit from electrification; like the latter, hydrogen-powered trains are key in reducing harmful emissions and ensuring air is cleaner.
The new train, codenamed ‘Breeze’, has been unveiled by Alstom and Eversholt Rail, which will see the conversion of existing Class 321 trains, the re-engineering of some of the most reliable rolling stock in the UK, so that a clean train for the modern age is fit for Britain’s railways.
This conversion of the Class 321 into a Hydrogen Multiple Unit (HMU) could mean the introduction of hydrogen-powered trains onto UK rail tracks by 2022.
Andrew Jones, UK Rail Minister, believes the technology could “transform our railway.”
He said: “Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO2 emissions even further.
“We are working with industry to establish how hydrogen trains can play an important part in the future, delivering better services on rural and inter-urban routes.”
Claire Perry, UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, added: “This new hydrogen-powered train, which will only emit water, is further proof of the UK’s continued creativity to transform the way we travel as we continue to move to a greener, cleaner economy.
“The UK is on track when it comes to growing a world leading hydrogen economy.”