2016 International Hydrail Conference 


Monday 4 – Tuesday 5 July 2016
Gisbert Kapp Building (G8 on the campus map), University of Birmingham

To attend, please register here.

Since 2005, academic, government and industry pioneers have met annually to advance the deployment of hydrail—wireless hydrogen fuel cell powered railway electrification—for societal reasons: climate change mitigation; pollution reduction; and avoidance of short-life investment in expensive legacy electrification.

The annual International Hydrail Conference focuses on the use of hydrogen for railway propulsion, the associated benefits, and remaining challenges. The 2016 International Hydrail Conference is the second to be hosted by the University of Birmingham—the first university in the world to grant a hydrail-specific doctorate. Particular program emphasis will focus on the hydrail trams that China have begun to manufacture and on the fleet of forty regional hydrail trains to be deployed in Germany by 2020.


This is the first year since the International Hydrail Conferences began in 2005 that a major focus of the agenda will be hydrail passenger equipment now in service. Highlights of the conference agenda include:

HE Jiajie, an engineer for International Coperation Division, CRRC Qingdao Sifang Corporation, Limited, will describe the history, development, capabilities and deployment plans of the hydrail tram which they introduced last year. This is the world's first production hydrail tram

Dr. Federico Zenith, Senior Research Scientist for rail and other fuel cell applications at Sintef, the leading Norwegian research organization, will present about the application of hydrogen and battery technologies for electrification of the Nordland line in Norway, the longest non-electrified line in Scandinavia (731 km).  He will focus on freight—the economically more relevant and technically more demanding activity on the line. Hydrogen and batteries compare favorably to current technologies (diesel and catenary) from a techno-economical perspective, even with current prices. The market potential for such solutions is particularly interesting for North American applications.

Dr. Andreas Hoffrichter was the first candidate to be granted Birmingham's hydrail PhD in 2013. Dr Hoffrichter will tell how he came to pursue a doctorate in hydrogen railway traction and how he and the University of Birmingham got together to enable the railway industry to use renewable energy.

Dr. Holger Busche (Keynote Presenter), technical advisor to Detlef Matthiessen MdL, speaker of the Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, Parliament for Energy Policy and Technology Innovation. Will discuss plans for powering the entire State's rail network by wind and other zero-carbon sources by 2025. The 65% of Schleswig-Holstein's rail lines now using diesel traction will be electrified wirelessly using hydrail and excess off-peak wind turbine energy.

Stephen Kent, Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education and Shawn Light of Singapore's Land Transport Authority will discuss the part that fuels cells could play in powering Britain's future rail network. This will include the recent study undertaken for the UK's Railway Safety & Standards Board which looks at the possibility of converting existing mid-life Diesel Multiple Units to battery/fuel cell hybrids as well as the work currently being undertaken involving the Core Valley Lines in Wales.

Peter Eggleton of Telligent Group Transportation Consultants, Quebec, Canada. Will describe a project retrofitting an industrial diesel switch engine for battery and hydrogen operations using Hydrogenics, Including fuel cells to help meet Canada's 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. He will also review how the 2013 Hydrail Conference in Toronto led to the widespread hydrail deployments about to take place in Germany.

Mark Kammerer,  Business Development Manager for Hydrogenics, Inc, will tell how his company is coupling the storage of renewable energy with fueling of transit fleets, applicable to hydrogen fuel cell buses and trains, as well as the innovation-leading fuel cell power module technology being applied in heavy mobility applications en route to commercialisation.

Kenichi Ogawa of Japan's Railway Technology Research Institute (RTRI) will update the conference on their hydrail railcar project - first described by Dr. Keiichiro Kondo in 2005 at the First International Hydrail Conference in Charlotte, NC USA. RTRI has been developing hydrail train technology since 2001 to reduce fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions and also to position Japan for a future without overhead wire railway power.

Dr. Stuart Hillmansen, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Energy Systems and Head of the Traction Research Group at the University of Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, will tell how Birmingham first anticipated the rise of hydrail and moved to create the world's first hydrail-specific doctoral program.

Dr. ZHANG Xuexia, Southwest Jiaotong University, China's Premier railway engineering school, will describe the evolution from SWJT University's 2013 "Blue Sky", China's first hydrail locomotive, to the production of the new hydrail tram just introduced in partnership with Tangshan Railway Vehicle Company Ltd., China's oldest rail car builder.


Raphael Isaac, a PhD student at UC Davis, will present the latest on his cross-fuels comparison research examining fuel technologies and their economic and environmental implications for intercity/commuter trains and freight trains. His presentation will include background information on rail simulations performed in collaboration with the University of Warwick and Michigan State, comparing hydrogen, diesel, and related hybrid powertrains for rail applications.

Mme. Yane Laperche-Riteau, Business Development Director for Ballard Power Systems Inc. of Canada, will tell how Ballard chose to enter the hydrail fuel cell rail traction market around the turn of the century, now with projects from the USA to China, long before the eventual hydrail transition became obvious.

Stan Thompson, one of the Mooresvile, NC, USA, originators of the international Hydrail Conference series, will tell how this unique effort to effect the innovation of a climate-friendly infrastructure technology years before its time came to be and where he sees hydrail going next.


During the weekend before the International Hydrail Conference, conferees are encouraged to attend the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Railway Challenge competition on Sunday, 3 July, 2016.

Registration Fees:

£100 for non-member/members

£50 for students

To attend, please register here.

International Hydrail Conferences are non-profit events, organised by volunteers for the public good. 


Crowne Plaza Birmingham 
Address: Nine Brindleyplace, 60 Broad Street
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 224 5000

Hampton by Hilton Birmingham Broad Street 
Address:200 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1SU
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 329 7450

Hotel Ibis Birmingham Centre New Street 
Address: 55 Irving Street, Birmingham, B1 1DH  
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 622 492

Jurys Inn Birmingham 
Address: 245 Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2HQ
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 606 9000

Malmaison Birmingham 
Address: The Mailbox, 1 Wharfside Street, Birmingham B1 1RD
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 794 3004

Venue Birmingham Conference Park
Address: The Conference Park, Lucas House, 48 Edgbaston Park Road, B15 2RA
Tel no: +44 (0) 121 415 8400

Please contact Nadeen Taylor if you require further information.