A grant from the Department for Transport will bring the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train (HydroFLEX closer to commercial operation.
The grant is part of InnovateUK’s First of a Kind (FOAK) Programme. Worth £400,000, it will enable the HydroFLEX development team at the University of Birmingham and industry partners Porterbrook to develop the train’s detailed final production design and testing.
HydroFLEX, which is also the world’s first bi-mode electric hydrogen train as well as being the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, will be undergoing mainline testing on the UK railway in the next few weeks.
Winning the FOAK 2020 programme marks an important step for the University and Porterbrook as it brings hydrogen trains one step closer to operation on the UK railway.
Alex Burrows, director of University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, commented: “I am really pleased that our HydroFLEX project has secured further Innovate UK funding to take its development closer to full commercialisation.
“To achieve decarbonisation of the railway we need to develop hydrogen technology, alongside electrification and batteries, as one of the means to get diesel trains off the network.
“The University of Birmingham has world class R&D capability in rail decarbonisation and I am hugely proud of our team as we continue this fantastic innovation partnership with industry to accelerate the development of clean technologies for the railway.”
Removing diesel from the rail network is essential for the industry to demonstrate its low carbon credentials to the public and government at a time of increasing environmental awareness and action. Hydrogen, along with electrification and battery technology, is one of the three means for delivering a decarbonised railway.
Minister of State for Transport Chris Heaton-Harris said: “the success of this trial in reducing harmful emissions underlines the importance of the First of a Kind competition, which funds pioneering projects to support better, more environmentally friendly rail journeys.
“Reducing the railway’s environmental impact and supporting decarbonisation is a priority for this Government. Harnessing innovation like this will be crucial in making our railways greener and cleaner in the future.”
Mary Grant, Porterbrook CEO, said “I am delighted that Innovate UK is supporting the University of Birmingham as it takes HydroFLEX to the next stage.
“We have proven this technology works, now is the opportunity for government to truly energise the Green Recovery by creating a real market for a fleet of hydrogen powered passenger trains.”