Hydrogen trains could extend the range of electric trains in the UK

A researcher at the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCRRE), has highlighted how plans to introduce hydrogen-powered trains in the UK within the next three year could help to phase out the use of polluting diesel trains by extending the range of electric trains.

Reacting to plans by the train manufacturer Alstom to introduce hydrogen powered trains to the UK, Dr Stuart Hillmansen, Senior Lecturer in Electrical Energy Systems at BCRRE, said: "Where hydrogen trains fits in is for those services which do 400km to 500km per day.

"It's not competing with electrification, it's in partnership with it."

Hydrogen powered trains are expected to form a key part of the UK's plan to tackle climate change. Transport currently accounts for around a quarter of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions. In February 2018, Jo Johnson, Minister of State for Transport, called for diesel-only trains to be phased out as part of new vision to decarbonise the railway. Hydrogen trains are expected to play an important role in achieving this ambition. By extending the range of electric trains, it is hoped hydrogen technology will reduce the need for diesel powered trains on medium and long distance rail routes.

Hydrogen trains produce the electricity they need to power them through a process of combining hydrogen and oxygen to create water. This electricity is then stored in batteries, which the train's motor then draws on throughout its journey. The hydrogen fuel source can be produced using electricity generated from renewal energy. Unlike diesel trains, which produce harmful emissions, the byproduct of hydrogen trains is water.

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UK Could have Hydrogen trains in 'three years'