Porterbrook, alongside the University of Birmingham, has announced that they have welcomed Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, onboard HydroFLEX, Britain’s first hydrogen train.
The first-ever hydrogen-powered train in Britain has started its operational trials on the mainline.
The start of testing is thanks to nearly two-years development work and an investment of more than £2m.
Rail leasing company, Porterbrook, has also announced plans to start putting HydroFLEX into production thanks to customer demand.
The HydroFLEX on test today is just a demonstrator unit, the production train will be configured to use both overhead electric wires and hydrogen for non-electrified lines.
Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP said: “As we continue on our road to a green recovery, we know that to really harness the power of transport to improve our country – and to set a global gold standard – we must truly embed change.
“That’s why I’m delighted that through our plans to build back better we are embracing the power of hydrogen and the more sustainable, greener forms of transport it will bring.”
Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “Porterbrook is committed to innovation and the delivery of a carbon neutral and sustainable railway. Today’s mainline testing of HydroFLEX achieves another important milestone on this journey. I’m also delighted to be able to announce our intention to start producing HydroFLEX trains, creating the world’s first electric and hydrogen powered bi-mode rolling stock, as well as generating significant opportunities for the UK supply chain.”
Professor Stephen Jarvis, Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Birmingham, says: “The University of Birmingham is setting the pace for rail innovation both in the UK and globally. The HydroFLEX project is a great example of how world-class R&D, together with the right industry partnerships, can deliver decarbonisation technologies that are both innovative and practical.
“Successful mainline testing is a major milestone for HydroFLEX and is a clear demonstration of the important role hydrogen has to play in the UK’s rail industry. Through the University and Porterbrook, we are looking forward to delivering this technology into the UK transport market, ensuring a cleaner future for our railways.”
Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, Alstom UK&I: “We are pleased the Secretary of State has recognised the importance of hydrogen trains and we welcome the proposed Hydrogen Transport Hub in the Tees Valley. Alstom is the world’s only manufacturer of proven hydrogen trains and we look forward to engaging with the announced masterplan and the Hub. Our trains have been in successful passenger operation for 18 months in Germany, has been trialled in the Netherlands, and is currently on passenger trial in Austria. We are very engaged in UK hydrogen trains too and with our partners Eversholt Rail we recently announced a one million pound investment in our Breeze hydrogen train. It would be built in Widnes, creating 200 jobs, reducing CO2 emissions, eliminating particulate pollution and providing a quiet, smooth, ride for passengers.”
Rail Operations Group Managing Director David Burley said “This is a real milestone in rail de-carbonisation, led by Porterbrook and BCCRE. ROG are proud to have supported this amazing project over the last two years. Becoming the UK’s first authorised operator of vehicles using such novel fuel sources gives ROG and our wider Group a new suite of options as we seek to ensure that de-carbonisation remains at the very core of what we do as our businesses continues to grow”.
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