UK’s first hydrogen-powered trains could operate from 2021

Eversholt’s ‘Breeze’ hydrogen multiple units


Train manufacturer Alstom and rolling stock leasing company Eversholt have announced that they expect the UK’s first hydrogen-powered trains to be operating in 2021. It follows the completion of an engineering study and design concept for the conversion of Eversholt’s Class 321 electric fleet into ‘Breeze’ hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). 

The trains operated by Greater Anglia are due to start coming off lease this year as the company replaces its fleet. The conversion, to be carried out at Alstom’s Widnes factory, will see hydrogen tanks installed inside the train to fit the UK loading gauge, rather than on the roof as with Alstom’s iLint trains introduced in Germany last September. The units will also be reduced in size from four cars to three as part of the conversion, but Eversholt said they would still have more seats than the regional and rural trains they are intended to replace.

The Breeze HMUs will have a top speed of 140km/h and a range of 1,000km. Alstom and Eversholt view the main benefits over diesel units as superior passenger comfort on virtually silent trains as well as the absence of harmful emissions. The top speed is comparable to diesel units and acceleration is expected to be faster. The companies are now working with train operators and Network Rail to develop business cases and evaluate detailed introduction plans for the trains and the associated fuelling infrastructure.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom UK & Ireland managing director, said the trains offered a solution for meeting the government’s aim of eliminating diesel rolling stock on routes which are unlikely to be electrified. The government has set a target to remove all diesel trains by 2040.

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!