Hydrogen trains on track for UK arrival

French locomotive giant Alstom will convert an existing fleet of electric trains by fitting them with gas tanks and fuel cells

By Jonny Bairstow

French locomotive giant Alstom is set to bring the first hydrogen train fleet to the UK.

The firm, which has already introduced its technology in Germany, plans to convert an existing fleet of electric 321 Class trains by fitting them with hydrogen tanks and fuel cells.

The company said projects at its site in Cheshire and with Eversholt Rail are the “first substantive industry response” to calls by the government for diesel rolling stock to be phased out by 2040.

The electrical energy generated by the fuel cells will be intermediately stored in batteries, to be used to power an electrical traction drive, releasing only steam and condensed water as emissions.

Nick Crossfield, managing Director of Alstom UK and Ireland, said: “Not only are hydrogen 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, hydrogen trains can help to avoid the necessity for line electrification, which represents a significant investment for customers.”