Last week, operational trials with the HydroFLEX test train have started on UK’s mainline network. It is the first electric+hydrogen bi-mode train in the world, being developed by lease company Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
Demonstrator 799 001 is a Porterbrook owned former class 319 unit (AC+DC EMU) with hydrogen technology developed by the University of Birmingham (BCRRE – Birmingham Centre for Railway Research & Education). The train is fitted with hydrogen fuel tanks, a fuel cell, and a battery pack to provide independent traction power capable of operation with zero carbon emissions.
This first trial run is a milestone after nearly two years of development and more than a million pounds of investment. The project is supported by the UK government with a £ 750.000 (approx. € 825.000) grant.
The current HydroFLEX prototype has the hydrogen-related equipment inside one of the carriages. For the production version of the train, BCRRE is developing a hydrogen and battery power module that can be fitted underneath the train to allow more space for passengers inside the train.
Porterbrook announced plans to start putting HydroFLEX into production, in response to customer demand. The concept is especially interesting for routes that are only partially electrified and for which full electrication is not economically interesting. The production version will therefore be capable of using both overhead-electric-wires and the hydrogen for non-electrified sections – making it the world’s first electric and hydrogen powered bi-mode rolling stock.
BCRRE produced a video of UK’s first hydrogen train:
Several other industry partners have supported the project. One of them seen before on Railcolornews is Ballard Power Systems for the fuel cell. Ballard is also a partner in Siemens’ plans for hydrogen-powered trains. Porterbrook, together with Wabtec, is also converting other class 319 units to tri-mode trains for GWR.
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