A system that uses hydrogen and oxygen to produce steam to power engines is just one of five innovative schemes that has been given a share of £1.75m ($2.3m) as the UK Government strives to cut carbon emissions from its railways.

Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP said the projects were chosen in the second round of the Department of Transport’s (DfT’s) First of a Kind (FOAK) competition, which focuses on innovative schemes that can cut the carbon footprint of the UK’s railways – part of the government’s drive to a cleaner, greener economy which is a key part of its modern industrial strategy.

The UK Government revealed ambitious plans last year to scrap diesel-only trains by 2040 in favour of hydrogen when it published its interim Rail Industry Decarbonisation Taskforce report.

UK to scrap diesel trains by 2040

“We want a cleaner, greener rail network and transforming our trains will help make this reality. The targets we set for 2040 are ambitious but are within our reach,” Jones said.

“It is encouraging to see the huge efforts already underway to make this happen. This funding will be vital in helping these fantastic projects adapt to the demands of rail and enable their potential roll-out, delivering a cleaner, healthier network for passengers.”

“It also underlines the shared commitment of government and industry to ensuring we have a modern railway that protects our environment.”

Last month, rail manufacturer Alstom revealed its plans for hydrogen trains in the UK, which could be rolled out as early as 2022. 

UK to have hydrogen trains by 2022

Codenamed ‘Breeze’, the train will be a conversion of existing Class 321 trains, which will be reengineered to create a clean train for the modern age.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom UK & Ireland Managing Director, said, “Hydrogen trains offer an ideal solution for routes which are unlikely to benefit from electrification, and our innovative engineering solution means they can now fit within the UK loading gauge and can quickly be ready to roll on Britain’s railways.”