Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, based at the University of St Andrews, have appointed Arcola Energy and a consortium of industry leaders in hydrogen fuel cell integration, rail engineering and functional safety to deliver Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train.
A key objective of the project is to create opportunities for the Scottish rail supply chain through skills development and industrialisation of the technology.
A retired ScotRail Class 314 electric set has been transported by road from its depot in Glasgow to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway where it will be converted to hydrogen-powered—a cleaner, greener alternative to diesel for non-electrified routes.
The target train passing by The Kelpies—30-meter-high horse-head sculptures depicting kelpies (mythical Celtic water horses which could transform their shape and which were reputed to have the strength of 10 horses and the endurance of many more), in Grangemouth near Falkirk. Inspiration for The Kelpies came from the heavy horses which pulled boats and cargo along the towpaths of the Forth & Clyde and Union Canals in their heyday.
The consortium will be led by hydrogen fuel cell integration specialist Arcola Energy and draw on the expertise of world-leading rail engineering and safety experts to deliver full system design and integration based on Arcola’s A-Drive technology platform. The project is supported by rail engineering and safety experts Arup and Abbott Risk Consulting to form an integrated delivery team, with AEGIS providing regulatory third-party verification.
The target is showcasing the train to a global audience attending the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November.
This project has the potential to be a game changer for the future of Scotland’s rail rolling stock. Our Rail Decarbonization Action Plan sets out to make our passenger railways emissions free by 2035, but to maximise our climate change ambitions, there is also a requirement to look at what we do with retired stock. If we can bring those back into use in a carbon-neutral way, there are huge climate gains to be made.—Transport Secretary Michael Matheson
As well as the benefits for Scottish business, the rail industry and the environment, the organizers hope the project will provide a boost to the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway, a heritage railway, which relies on tourism and has suffered throughout the 2020 Covid lockdowns and restrictions.