The UK’s first hydrogen train will debut on mainline tracks, introducing an eco-friendly technology drive as part of the coronavirus boom.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps will visit the start of trials in Warwickshire on Wednesday, where the hydrogen-powered locomotive will be put through its paces on the main network.
In contrast to diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases, but use hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, water and heat in order to reach speeds of up to 80 km / h.
The Ministry of Transport (DfT) announced that the breakthrough technology will be available by 2023 to convert currently operating trains to hydrogen and meet the goal of removing only diesel vehicles from the passenger network by 2040.
Mr. Shapps said, “As we continue on our path to a green recovery, we know we really need to embed change in order to really harness the power of transport to improve our country – and to set a global gold standard.
“So I’m really excited that through our plans to rebuild better, we’re harnessing the power of hydrogen and the more sustainable, environmentally friendly modes of transport it will bring.”
The trials of the train, known as the Hydroflex, have received a £ 750,000 grant from DfT and follow nearly two years of development work and over £ 1 million investments from Porterbrook, a major UK vehicle owner, and the University of Birmingham.
Porterbrook said production of commuter trains will begin as it continues to work with the University of Birmingham to develop a hydrogen and battery powered module that can be placed under the train and provide more space for passengers.
Mary Grant, General Manager of Porterbrook, said: “I am very pleased to announce our intention to start manufacturing the Hydroflex train supply chain in the UK. “
A master plan, expected to be released in January, will pave the way to investigate how green hydrogen can power buses, heavy-duty vehicles, sea and airplanes, and rail, added a Whitehall spokesman.
Following the development of the world’s largest versatile hydrogen in the Tees Valley, the Minister of Transport has also announced the intention to make the region a so-called “hydrogen transport center”.
It will bring together representatives from academia, industry and government to advance the UK’s plans to use hydrogen as an alternative fuel with the aim of creating hundreds of jobs, DfT confirmed.