“The next generation of trains is just around the corner” said the UK’s Rail Minister as he revealed ambitious plans to scrap diesel-only trains by 2040 in favour of hydrogen (H2).
In a speech delivered on Monday titled a ‘Cleaner, Greener Railway’, Jo Johnson (left) urged the rail industry to clean up its act and provide a vision for how it will decarbonise in a bid to reduce pollutants and improve air quality.
“I would like to see us take all diesel-only trains off the track by 2040. If that seems like an ambitious goal, it should be and I make no apology for that,” he stated. “After all, we’re committed to ending sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. If we can achieve that, then why can’t the railway aspire to a similar objective?”
Johnson said the future could see battery and diesel engines replaced with H2 units. “Alternative fuel trains powered entirely by H2 are a prize on the horizon. I’d like to see H2 train trails on the UK railway as soon as possible. H2 offers an affordable – and potentially much cleaner – alternative to diesel. And, the technology has developed fast in recent years. To the extent that Alstom is now testing a train which only emits steam and condensed water – yet is capable of 140km per hour and a range of up to 800km, which matches the performance of regular regional trains,” he explained.
Concluding his speech, Johnson said, “Increased mobility for every part of the community - yet less congestion. More intensive use of the infrastructure - and yet more comfortable travel. Faster journeys - yet fewer transport emissions. These goals are within our grasp. A knowledge economy more innovative than ever. So, let’s raise our ambitions – and realise them.”
Hydrogen: Credence and gravitas
First there were the dreamers, the conceptualisers. Then there were the innovators, the technologists, and gradually came the required compliance to match. Now we have the big heavyweights really weighing in too…
Shell, TOTAL, BP, et al.
Not that they weren’t always there of course, but now their presence is so much more prominent – and that is why the time is now for the evolving hydrogen economy.
These are companies that are very well positioned to be at the forefront of the clean energy transition but who, one might suggest, could continue to dine out for some time on the riches of their fossil fuel empires.
Yet rather than drag their heels and persist with 100% focus on their traditional oil-based assets, they are taking their opportunity to move now.
That’s why this is real. That’s why this is the time now for the hydrogen economy. That’s why this has accelerated so far beyond words and wishful thinking; there exists a credence, a gravitas, now in the hydrogen economy. You only have to look at a selection of developments in the last six months alone to see this…
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