Political support for hydrogen trains in the UK

Alstom’s Coradia iLint, a hydrogen-powered train. Credit: Alstom.
Alstom’s Coradia iLint, a hydrogen-powered train. Credit: Alstom.

UK Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has said he wants to see hydrogen trains on Britain’s rail network in the near future.

Grayling was responding to a question from Labour MP Paul Blomfield about the environmental implications of the government’s decision to cancel the electrification of the Midland Main Line north of Kettering.

“I expect to see a transformation of technology on our railways over the coming years, with the introduction of different types of battery electric hybrid trains and hydrogen trains. I see that as a priority,” said Grayling, speaking in the House of Commons on January 18.

He added: “I want the first hydrogen train operating on our rail network in a very short period of time.”

Alstom is currently trialling its hydrail passenger train technology in Germany, attracting interest from all around the world.

It works by exposing hydrogen to oxygen to produce electrical energy. This then powers the electrical traction drive and stores any excess energy in lithium-ion batteries. The only direct emissions from the train are steam and condensed water.

Alstom’s solution is based on its Coradia Lint DMU. Alstom says its hydrogen-powered iLint is capable of matching the performance of regular regional trains.

The two-car prototype currently being tested has a top speed of 140km/h and a range of up to 800km.

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