The first ever hydrogen powered train has travelled on the UK mainline today.
Today’s trials of the train, known as HydroFLEX, which have been supported with a £750,000 grant from the Department for Transport, follow almost two years’ development work and more than £1million of investment by both Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases, instead using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat. The ground-breaking technology behind the trains will also be available by 2023 to retrofit current in-service trains to hydrogen helping to decarbonise the rail network and make rail journeys greener and more efficient.
The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, who also announced that Tees Valley will become a Hydrogen Transport Hub, bringing together representatives from academia, industry and government to drive forward the UK’s plans to embrace the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, 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.”
To kick start this exciting development in Tees Valley, the DfT have commissioned a feasibility study of the hub, to better understand how it can accelerate the UK’s ambitions in Hydrogen. The plan, expected to be published in January, will pave the way for exploring how green hydrogen could power buses, HGV, rail, maritime and aviation transport across the UK. The aim would then be for the region to kick on and become a global leader in industrial research on the subject of hydrogen as a fuel as well as an R&D hub for hydrogen transport more generally, attracting hundreds of jobs and boosting the local economy in the process.
As part of the £23m Hydrogen for Transport Programme, the plans announced today also include £6.3m of funding for a green hydrogen refueling station and 19 hydrogen-powered refuse vehicles in Glasgow, a world-first for the size of the fleet.
The next stages of HydroFLEX are already well underway, with the University of Birmingham 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, 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.
“The department is developing even more ways to slash emissions across transport, as work to create the Transport Decarbonisation Plan continues. The plan will develop a first-of-a-kind approach to decarbonise every mode of transport and is due to be published before the end of this year.”
Julian David, techUK’s CEO said:
“The announcement today on the further progress of the Hydrogen for Transport Programme is a demonstration of the UK Government’s commitment to developing a hydrogen infrastructure as part of its efforts to decarbonise transport and encourage the shift to zero emission vehicles.
With the growing demand to switch to a net zero economy, the advancement of R&D means we can further demonstrate this innovative technology for road, rail, and freight and logistics as an efficient and economic solution. techUK is excited to work together with the tech community and the Government to spearhead the market offering for green hydrogen.”