UK’s first hydrogen train to begin mainline tests

Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) announced that the UK’s first hydrogen train, HydroFlex, will be tested on the mainline railway following a successful proof-of-concept.

The prototype train was presented at Rail Live.

The HydroFlex pilot involves the fitment of a hydrogen powerpack to an existing Class 319 train, which would eventually allow it to run on conventional electrified routes as well as independently. This results in a highly flexible train that can operate on different parts of Britain’s rail network.

“This is a first test but we are excited about being in a position to provide HydroFlex as a viable offering very soon. Britain’s railway has a key part to play in reducing transport emissions and we are committed to helping our customers play an important role in delivering this,” Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said.

The mainline testing of HydroFlex marks an important step in the development of a zero-carbon emission propulsion system that could help to decarbonise Britain’s railway.

For this pilot, Porterbrook and BCRRE collaborated with Chrysalis Rail for installation, Denchi Group for traction batteries, Ballard Fuel Cell Systems for the fuel cell, Luxfer for hydrogen storage tanks, DG8 design support, Derby Engineering Unit for panels and brackets, SNC Lavalin for design and hazard identifications, Aura for exterior livery design and dB Cargo Crewe for the recommissioning of the unit.

The HydroFlex project received DfT funding from Innovate UK through its First of a Kind competition to take the prototype forward towards mainline testing. The same funding competition has enabled for Porterbrook to pair up with Eminox to create a catalyst converter for diesel trains, extending the green credentials of the rail leasing company.


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