Last month, The Prince of Wales met at Glasgow Central station with teams from Network Rail
and train technology companies Vivarail
, to find out more about alternative-fuel trains and the technology that will play a major part in powering Britain’s ‘green rail revolution’.
He toured two trains: a Vivarail battery train; and the Porterbrook HydroFLEX — a hydrogen-ready hybrid capable of being powered by hydrogen, battery or the overhead electric wires. Both were being showcased by Network Rail at COP26
to demonstrate the rail industry’s commitment to further decarbonising Britain’s railway and supporting the UK and Scottish Governments’ ‘net zero’ targets.
Last year, Network Rail announced that it had become the first railway in the world to set the most ambitious level of science-based targets for reducing carbon emissions and released the interim ‘Traction Decarbonisation Network Strategy’; this outlines the further electrification of the mainline rail network and the use of alternative-fuel trains needed to meet those targets.
Martin Frobisher, Network Rail’s engineering and safety director, said: “We were honoured to welcome His Royal Highness to Glasgow Central to discuss our commitment to making our green railway even greener and to see these superb feats of engineering, which will play an important role in helping us meet our decarbonisation ambitions.
“Rail’s role in tackling climate change should not be understated. We already play a key role in taking cars and lorries off the road, moving millions of passengers and a huge quantity of goods around the country in a more environment-friendly way, and our sights are firmly set on using the best of British technology to make our railway even greener for the future.”
Alex Hynes, managing director of Scotland’s Railway, said: “With 75% of our customers in Scotland already travelling on zero-emission trains, we are fully committed to making rail even more environment-friendly. We have ambitious plans to decarbonise all of our passengers’ journeys by 2035 and we were delighted to welcome His Royal Highness to Scotland’s busiest station to see how the industry is pioneering the use of new technologies to fight climate change.”
Steve McBride, Vivarail’s managing director spoke with The Prince about the Warwickshire-based company’s work to design and manufacture pure-battery and battery-hybrid trains, their commitment to repurposing older diesel units or using battery technology to bring additional flexibility to electric trains.
Meanwhile, Mary Grant, Porterbrook’s managing director, explained how, in just 10 months, the company had stripped back and upcycled a 30-year-old train to use the latest green technology. She said: “The HydroFLEX showcases how British engineering and innovation can play a vital part in decarbonising Britain’s railway.”