Alstom and Eversholt Rail have unveiled the design of a new hydrogen train for the UK market. The train, codenamed Breeze, will be a conversion of existing Class 321 trains, reengineering some of the UK’s most reliable rolling stock. These trains could run across the UK as early as 2022.
The rolling stock conversion will be carried out by Alstom, working in partnership with Eversholt Rail and building upon an established business relationship spanning over 15 years and across multiple rolling stock fleets. This proven and reliable Class 321 is an excellent fit in terms of characteristics, fleet size and availability for conversion to a Hydrogen Multiple Unit (HMU).
Alstom and Eversholt Rail are working closely with industry stakeholders to develop the business cases and evaluate detailed introduction plans for fleets of these innovative trains and the associated fuelling infrastructure. Alstom and Eversholt Rail also confirmed that their initial, comprehensive engineering study is now complete, and the train design concept finalized.
The technical solution defined is the first to allow a hydrogen train to fit within the standard UK loading gauge (maximum height and width for railway vehicles and their loads to ensure safe passage through bridges, tunnels and other structures), and it will also create more space for passengers than the trains they are intended to replace.
The Alstom facility in Widnes will manage the conversion of the Breeze trains.
The news follows the introduction in September of Alstom’s Coradia iLint hydrogen trains in Germany (earlier post), where they now operate in regular passenger service on a daily basis. There is growing interest in Alstom’s hydrogen technology worldwide, including in France where the President of the Occitanie region, Carole Delga, recently announced a proposal to introduce the technology on trains there.
Transport in the UK has evolved over centuries from the world’s first steam train to the tens of thousands of electric vehicles on our roads today thanks to our nation of innovators. This new hydrogen powered train, which will only emit water, is further proof of the UK’s continued creativity to transform the way we travel as we continue to move to a greener, cleaner economy. The UK is on track when it comes to growing a world-leading hydrogen economy, and through our modern Industrial Strategy we are providing £23 million to power our ambition to be the ‘go-to’ place for first-class hydrogen transport.—Claire Perry MP, UK Minister for Energy and Clean Growth