Alstom and Evershot Rail plan to introduce Class 321 hydrogen-powered units intro traffic from 2021.
ALSTOM and Eversholt Rail plan to have Class 321 ‘Breeze’ units powered by hydrogen in traffic from 2021.
The trains will be capable of carrying sufficient hydrogen for 625 miles. They will have a top speed of 87mph and will also feature Lithium-ion batteries as well as regenerative brakes. Conversion work is planned to take place at the company’s Widnes facility.
Due to the UK loading gauge, a hydrogen tank will be fitted inside one of the vehicles, rather than on the roof as per the German iLints introduced by Alstom in Germany last year (see panel). Electrical energy is generated by combining hydrogen and oxygen.
The trains will be reduced in formation from four-car to threecar sets, using electric multiple units currently used by Greater Anglia.
Alstom says that when in traffic, the ‘Breeze’ will only emit water and no harmful emissions.
It has been confirmed that the initial engineering study for the hydrogen multiple units (HMUs) is complete and the train design is finalised.
The manufacturer and rolling stock leasing company are currently working to develop the business case for the HMUs, as well as evaluating detailed introduction plans for fleets of these trains. Alstom says the concept could also be exported.
No customer has been confirmed for the trains, and RAIL sources confirm Non-Disclosure Agreements have been signed regarding the potential use of the HMUs.
However, it is understood that Transport Scotland is interested in the concept, while industry speculation has also linked the trains to the Northern franchise.
“Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO emissions even further,” said Rail Minister Andrew Jones.
Former Rail Minister Claire Perry, now Minister for Energy and Clean Growth, said: “Plans for the design of new hydrogen-powered trains, which have the potential to 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.”
Alstom UK & Ireland Managing Director Nick Crossfield said: “Hydrogen trains offer an ideal solution for routes which are unlikely to benefit from electrification, and our innovative engineering solution means they can now fit within the UK loading gauge and can quickly be ready to roll on Britain’s railways.”
Stephen Timothy, Eversholt Rail Client Relations Director, said: “Combining the experience gained from the successful Coradia iLint and Class 321 Renatus programmes will deliver a hydrogen-powered multiple unit product that will meet sponsors’ and train operators’ aspirations for the earliest possible fleet introduction.”
There are 36 Class 321/3s and 36 Class 321/4s due off-lease with GA by October 31 2019 that have not been refurbished, while the 30 re-tractioned and refurbished Renatus fleet (321301-321330) are due off-lease by December 1 2019, although that will be dependent on sufficient Class 720s being delivered by Bombardier.
An artist’s impression of a hydrogen-powered Class 321.