Rolling stock

15.05.18

Alstom and Eversholt team up to fit hydrogen tanks on Class 321s

Alstom has today confirmed its plans to bring hydrogen-powered trains to the UK by announcing a partnership with Eversholt Rail.

The two companies will join forces to convert Class 321 electric trains to hydrogen operation by fitting hydrogen tanks and fuel cells on the existing units, which Alstom claimed will upcycle what are already some of the “best proven” trains on the network into “Britain’s most advanced rolling stock.”

The French-based transport giant said this marks the first “substantive” industry response to the government’s desire to get rid of ‘dirty diesel’ stock by 2040, although it does come after Vivarail’s long-running D-Train project. Around a third of the UK’s trains are currently running on diesel.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom UK & Ireland managing director, argued the potential for hydrogen trains is enormous and just the “bold and innovative” industry response needed to the government’s diesel challenge.

“I am very proud that, working with Eversholt Rail, we are able to take the lead in that respect,” he added.

“Not only are hydrogen trains zero carbon, they are near-silent and emit no particulates, which means they offer substantial air quality and noise pollution benefits too. On cost, hydrogen trains can help to avoid the necessity for line electrification, which represents a significant investment for customers.”

A potential long-term application of hydrogen in the UK – which already has the DfT’s backing – could be significant to the industry, considering that less than half of the network is currently electrified. Large swathes of the railways will likely remain unelectrified after Chris Grayling’s decision to pull the plug on key schemes.

Today’s announcement follows on from Alstom’s first successful test of the Coradia iLint, the world’s only hydrogen fuel cell passenger train, at its test track in Salzgitter. The milestone was the first step to an extensive test campaign in Germany and Czech Republic over the coming months.

Henrik Anderberg, former managing director for regional & intercity at the company’s UK base, wrote about how the train could revolutionise UK railways in RTM’s October/November 2016 issue.

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