That’s a rail success! Hydrogen-powered train will run on mainline for the first time TODAY as part of plan to cut diesel use
- Grant Shapps hopes hydrogen trains will start taking paying passengers in 2023
- The trains do not emit harmful gases and instead rely on hydrogen and oxygen
- Thousands of trains run on diesel and less than half the network is electrified
A train powered by hydrogen will run on the mainline for the first time today as part of a government plan to clean up our diesel-fuelled railways.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes hydrogen trains will start taking paying passengers in 2023.
Trials of the ‘Hydroflex’ train will begin at Long Marston, Warwickshire, and run on the North Cotswold line from Oxford to Hereford.
Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases. Instead they rely on hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.
The technology has been developed by the University of Birmingham and Porterbrook, a rolling stock company.
There have been mounting concerns over sky-high levels of pollution around railway lines and station platforms. Thousands of trains run on diesel and less than half the network is electrified.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps hopes hydrogen trains will start taking paying passengers in 2023
The Department for Transport wants to end the use of all diesel-powered trains by 2040 and the UK aims to achieve net zero emissions in 30 years.
Mr 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… we are embracing the power of hydrogen and the more sustainable, greener forms of transport it will bring.’
Mary Grant, chief executive of Porterbrook, said: ‘I’m 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.’
RMT general secretary Mick Cash called for future hydrogen trains to be produced in the UK to aid the economic recovery after coronavirus.
‘Expanding the UK’s manufacturing base for hydrogen trains could help support the decarbonisation of the transport sector and our economic recovery from Covid-19,’ he said.
Trials of the ‘Hydroflex’ train will begin at Long Marston, Warwickshire, and run on the North Cotswold line from Oxford to Hereford
‘It is absolutely vital that all the manufacturing is carried out domestically.
‘Government investment in the UK’s rail manufacturing sector would create new skilled jobs and boost the economy as part of our green economic recovery from Covid-19.’
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association meanwhile lobbied for the Government to ‘reinstate’ its shelved electrification plans for the country’s rail lines if it is to achieve a green transport network.
The DfT is hopeful that the railway breakthrough will allow more transport modes to adopt the environment-friendly fuel.
Out of its £23 million ‘hydrogen for transport’ programme, £6.3 million will fund 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.
A masterplan, expected to be published in January, will pave the way for exploring how green hydrogen could power buses, heavy goods vehicles, maritime and planes, as well as rail, a Whitehall spokesman added.
Following the development of the world’s largest versatile hydrogen in the Tees Valley, the Transport Secretary has also announced intentions to make the region into a so-called ‘hydrogen transport hub’.
It will bring together representatives from academia, industry and Government to drive the UK’s plans to embrace the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel, with the ambition of creating hundreds of jobs, DfT confirmed.