Ontario, Canada, is taking the next steps to explore hydrogen (H2)-powered trains as it looks to transform the GO network into a rapid-transit system that will provide faster and more frequent service for commuters and families.

Transportation Minister Kathryn McGarry was in Toronto earlier this week to release the province’s Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study, which found that it would be feasible to build and operate electrified rail service on GO Transit and the UP Express using H2-powered trains at a cost comparable to conventional electrification using overhead wires.

The province is engaging with train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens to produce concept designs that incorporate H2 fuel cells into bi-level trains similar to those currently used by GO Transit. In addition, the province is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for designs for a H2 fuel cell-powered locomotive, which could lead to a prototype rail vehicle that would be tested on the GO rail network.

“The potential benefit of H2 fuel cells compared to overhead wires makes exploring H2 rail technology worthwhile. Our government is taking the next step in assessing how this important technology could work for our own transit system,” McGarry explained.

“Our H2 Feasibility Study and Hydrail Symposium have shown that it is worthwhile to take a more in-depth look at using H2 fuel cell powered rail vehicles to electrify the GO Transit network. The opportunity to further examine the scope, costs, benefits and risks of this technology is something my team and I are looking forward to in the coming months. We want to make sure we are making the best decision for Ontario communities,” Phil Verster, President and CEO of Metrolinx, added.