Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from Porterbrook Leasing Company Limited for a FCveloCity®-HD fuel cell module and related support to power a HydroFLEX train in the UK.

The HydroFLEX will be the UK’s first fully sized hydrogen demonstrator train, which will showcase how hydrogen can be used to power a train that retains the ability to operate across existing electric routes, on either third rail or 25kV overhead power.

Earlier this year UK Rail Minister, Jo Johnson MP, challenged the rail industry to develop decarbonisation plans, with the objective of removing diesel-only trains for the network by 2040.

The HydroFLEX train was a response to this from Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s “Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education” (BCRRE). Porterbrook will provide a Class 319 electric train for conversion by BCRRE’s technical and research experts into a HydroFLEX hydrogen-powered train.

“I am delighted that BCRRE has chosen to work with Porterbrook on this exciting fuel cell project. We have also engaged Ballard, a leading fuel cell company, to supply a fuel cell module and support services,” said Stephan McGurk, Porterbrook Chief Commercial Officer.

“The HydroFLEX will not only showcase rail innovation, it will also demonstrate how the private sector railway can effectively partner with education bodies to jointly deliver real benefits to passengers, train operators and the communities our railways serve.”

Ballard will provide system controls development, mechanical integration of sub-systems and other components.

“We are pleased to work with Porterbrook and BCRRE on the HydroFLEX rail programme. As evidenced by this activity in the UK, along with our work on fuel cell rail programmes in Germany and Cine, momentum is rapidly building behind the development and deployment of heavy-duty motive fuel cell solutions for both inner-city trains as well as intra-city trams,” said Jesper Themsen, President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S.

“Ballard is now actively working with a number of the world’s most important players in the rolling stock sector, including Porterbrook, to meet this growing requirement.”

Testing and demonstration runs are planned for the summer of 2019 at RailLive, which will take place at Long Marston in Warwickshire.