The UK’s first hydrogen-powered train – known as HydroFLEX – ran on the English mainland today (30th September) as part of trials in Warwickshire.
The trials have been supported by a £750,000 grant from the Department for Transport after almost two years’ development work and more than £1m of investment by both Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
The technology behind hydrogen-powered trains will be available by 2023 to retrofit current in-service trains to hydrogen helping decarbonise the rail network and make rail journeys greener and more efficient.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said, “As we continue on our road to a green recovery, we know that to really harness the power of transport to improve our country – and to set a global gold standard – we must truly embed change. That’s why I’m delighted that through our plans to build back better we are embracing the power of hydrogen and the more sustainable, greener forms of transport it will bring.”
Schapps also announced the ambition for Tees Valley to become the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub, bringing together industry and academia to help create hundreds of green jobs.
The UK Department of Transport has commissioned a masterplan – expected to be published in January – to understand the feasibility of the hub and how it can accelerate the UK’s ambitions in hydrogen exploring how green hydrogen could power buses, HGV, rail, maritime and aviation transport across the UK. The aim would be for Tees Valley to become a trailblazer for research on hydrogen as a fuel and an R&D hub for hydrogen transport.
Through the Hydrogen for Transport Programme, which will provide up to £23m of new grant funding, the plans announced today include £6.3m of funding for a green hydrogen refuelling station and 19 hydrogen-powered refuse vehicles in Glasgow, a world-first for the size of the fleet, according to the department.
The University of Birmingham is developing a hydrogen and battery powered module that can be fitted underneath the train, which will allow for more space for passengers in the train’s carriage.
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, a company that provides rolling stock solutions, said, “Porterbrook is committed to innovation and the delivery of a carbon neutral and sustainable railway. Today’s mainline testing of HydroFLEX achieves another important milestone on this journey. I’m also delighted to be able to announce our intention to start producing HydroFLEX trains, creating the world’s first electric and hydrogen powered bi-mode rolling stock, as well as generating significant opportunities for the UK supply chain.”
Other industry partners who have supported delivery of HydroFLEX include: Chrysalis Rail for installation work; Denchi Group for traction batteries; Ballard Power Systems for the fuel cell; Luxfer for hydrogen storage tanks; Ricardo Rail for approvals support; Fuel Cell Systems for hydrogen refuelling equipment; Jeff Vehicles for engineering support on fuel cell control; SNC Lavalin for development of a new maintenance regime; DEU for supply of integration steelwork and miscellaneous installation materials; Aura for exterior livery design; and dg8 for design and engineering support.