Alstom confirms plans to bring its world leading hydrogen (H2) technology to trains in the UK.

The company is working with Eversholt Rail ‎on plans to convert Class 321 electric trains to H2 operation, fitting H2 tanks and fuel cells to upcycle trains that are some of the best proven on the network into Britain’s most advanced rolling stock. This is the first substantive industry response to the Government’s challenge to remove diesel rolling stock by 2040.

Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK & Ireland, commented, “The potential for H2 trains is enormous. The Government has set a clear objective of removing diesel rolling stock by 2040 and this requires a bold and innovative response from the industry. I am very proud that, working with Eversholt Rail, we are able to take the lead in that respect.

“Not only are H2 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, H2 trains can help to avoid the necessity for line electrification, which represents a significant investment for customers.

Alstom hydrogen powered passenger train 3

“We think the potential long-term application of H2 in the UK is very significant. Less than 50% of the UK network is electrified, and much that isn’t electrified is unlikely ever to be so. Starting with this conversion, we think H2 could offer the right zero carbon solution for many parts of the network,” Crossfield concluded.

Alstom is the first company to introduce a regional train based on H2 fuel cells and batteries. The Coradia iLint is the first Alstom H2 train, on test already in Germany. Nearly a third of all the UK’s trains are diesel trains, which will need to be replaced or refurbished to hit the Government’s target of no diesel rail vehicles by 2040.

H2 can be produced using sustainable electricity and electrolysis or through industrial processes. The fuel cell on the train produces electricity through a combination of H2 and oxygen (O2) to create water. The electrical energy is intermediately stored in batteries and the train is powered by an electrical traction drive. The only exhaust is steam and condensed water.

Alstom is confident that H2 technologies and solutions will play a key role in the UK’s global vision for the future.