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Hydrogen fuel cell trains to run on British railways from 2022

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Hydrogen-powered trains could run on British railways as early as 2022, as plans to introduce fuel cell technology to the network gather pace.

French rail multinational Alstom and UK rolling stock operating company (ROSCO) Eversholt Rail Group have today unveiled the design for a new hydrogen fuel cell train for the UK market. Based on the tried-and-tested British Rail Class 321, the fuel cell trains – nicknamed ‘Breeze’ – will bring zero-emission hydrogen tech to parts of the UK that still run on diesel.

“Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO2 emissions even further. We are working with industry to establish how hydrogen trains can play an important part in the future, delivering better services on rural and inter-urban routes,” said Andrew Jones MP, UK Rail Minister.

By converting the electrical multiple units (EMUs) to what Alstom describes as a hydrogen multiple unit (HMU), the Paris based firm will combine the efficiency and practicality of the existing rolling stock with the versatility and environmental benefits of hydrogen fuel cells.  

The conversion work is expected to take place over the next three years at Alstom’s Widnes facility, with the first trains projected to run as early as 2022.

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