Rail industry body RSSB has appointed Arup (www.arup.com
) to develop a ‘route map to enter service’ for hydrogen-powered trains on the UK rail network.
The work, which will involve establishing a high-level operational concept, the associated operational hazards, and regulatory obligations, follows a proposal by the UK Government to replace all diesel-only trains by 2040.
It says that alongside electrified rail and battery-powered trains, the use of hydrogen-powered trains offers a lower-carbon alternative to diesel.
Working closely with manufacturers, regulators, rolling-stock owners and train operators, Arup’s work will ‘inform the specific design solutions of hydrogen-powered trains, factoring in operation and safety risks’.
The study, which is due to finish in February, will also determine what level of standardisation is needed across
the country’s railway system, clarifying the route to market from a safety and compatibility perspective.
Trials of hydrogen-powered trains were included as a commitment by Abellio when it was awarded the East Midlands franchise in August, and several organisations have already developed hydrogen solutions for the UK.
This study will review their readiness to enter operation on the National Rail network, and it means that the UK could be in a position to quickly follow in the footsteps of countries like Germany, where hydrogen-powered trains are already in service.
Anthony Perret, head of RSSB’s Sustainable Development Programme (www.rssb.co.uk
), said: “Rail is already a naturally low-carbon transport mode, but there is still potential for the industry to make a further step change in emissions reduction.
"For rail to play a major role in enabling the UK economy to be net zero by 2050, we will need a mix of electrification, hydrogen and battery technology.
"This study will highlight our readiness to embrace the emerging benefits of hydrogen-powered trains on our network.”