Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has announced today, on his visit to the trials in Warwickshire, the UK’s first revolutionary hydrogen powered train will run on the UK mainline today in a big move forward towards the UK’s net zero targets.
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’ work and more than £1m of investment by both Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not release harmful gases, instead using hydrogen oxygen to produce electricity, water and heat.
The innovative technology behind the trains will also be available by 2023 to refit current in-service trains to hydrogen helping decarbonise the rail network and make rail journeys greener and more efficient.
The Transport Secretary also announced the drive for Tees Valley to become a new 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 could create hundreds of jobs while seeing the region become a global leader in the green hydrogen sector.
Tees Valley is said to be perfectly placed to reap these benefits, following the development there of the world’s largest versatile hydrogen refuelling facility made possible through Government funding.
Transport Secretary Grant 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 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.”
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.”
David Clarke, Technical Director at the Railway Industry Association (RIA), said: “It is welcome news that the UK is undertaking mainline testing of a hydrogen train and announcing a Hydrogen Transport Hub in the Tees Valley.
“The introduction of fleets of low carbon, self-powered trains, alongside a rolling programme of electrification, can help ensure rail leads the country’s decarbonisation revolution, generating jobs and investment in the process. As we look to generate an economic recovery, clean rail technologies can help spur economic growth across the UK, whilst also helping our rail industry to develop a competitive advantage from which it could export more overseas too.”