Awards, contracts & appointments

29.11.19

RSSB appoint Arup to review hydrogen trains

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has tasked Arup with developing a case for hydrogen-powered trains on the Great Britain (GB) mainline.

The review will move to establish a high-level operational concept, any relevant operational hazards and obligations of regulation.

This comes after the UK government proposed the replacement of all diesel-only trains by 2040, in a bid to make rail an even greener mode of transport and meet the target of net zero carbon by 2050.

As well as hydrogen, the low carbon alternatives to diesel also include electrified rail and battery-powered trains.

In order to carry out the task, Arup will work closely with manufacturers, regulators, rolling stock owners and train operators to provide a piece of work sufficient to inform the specific solutions of hydrogen-powered trains. From design to operation and safety risks.

The study is due for completion in Feb 2020 and will also determine what level of standardisation is needed across the country’s railway system, clarifying the supply chain specifics from a safety and compatibility perspective.

Several organisations have already developed hydrogen solutions for the UK, and trials were included as a commitment by Abellio when it was awards the East Midlands franchise in August.

The review will look into the suitability and readiness of hydrogen trains to enter operation on Network Rail network, meaning the UK could follow other European countries already using hydrogen powered trains.

Anthony Perret, head of sustainable development programme, RSSB said:

“Rail is already a naturally low-carbon transport mode, but there is still potential for the industry to make a further step change in emissions reduction. For rail to play a major role in enabling the UK economy to be net zero by 2050, we will need a mix of electrification, hydrogen and battery technology. This study will highlight our readiness to embrace the emerging benefits of hydrogen powered trains on our network.”

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