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Study launched to assess viability of using hydrogen-fuelled trains in Wales

10 Mar 2022 3 minute read
Class 175 Transport for Wales train.

A study has been launched to assess the viability of using hydrogen-fuelled trains in Wales.

The four-month study is being undertaken by Arup and fuel cell manufacturer Ballard Motive Solutions, with funding from the Welsh government’s Hydrogen Business Research & Innovation for Decarbonisation small business research initiative.

After looking at operational, rolling stock and power requirements for various non-electrified routes, the study is expected to determine what would be required for the development of hydrogen train capabilities in Wales, along with recommendations for a potential deployment.

There are already hydrogen-powered trains in service in Germany, and Arup are also working with Transport Scotland.

The scheme in Wales aims to develop innovative, explorative solutions which support the ten objectives of the Welsh Government’s Wales Hydrogen Pathway – elements incorporated into the Net Zero Wales 2021-25 carbon reduction plan.

These will focus on accelerating the development of technologies and processes which enable the deployment of hydrogen as a key energy vector, which will be critical for meeting the 2040 target of removing all diesel-only trains from the network, and the national commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

‘New fleet’

Earlier this month the Welsh Conservatives asked what consideration had been given to hydrogen powered trains in Wales.

Shadow Transport Minister Natasha Asghar said that if Deputy Climate Chnage Minister, Lee Waters was “serious about combating climate change” he had to “ensure Wales has a modern rail service”.

“This presents an opportunity to replace our ageing trains with hydrogen trains, which are currently being trialled in Germany,” she said.

“This zero-emission train emits low levels of noise, with exhausts being only steam and condensed water, enabling us to meet climate change targets.

“So, can I ask, Deputy Minister, what consideration have you given and what discussions have you had with regard to decarbonising transport in Wales by replacing our ageing trains with hydrogen trains to improve rail services and improve the environment?”

Deputy Climate Change Minister, Lee Waters responded that Wales had received less than 2 per cent of the £102 billion that the UK Government has spent on rail enhancement.

“Despite that, we are investing £800 million on a new fleet of trains that will serve 95 per cent of passenger journeys across Wales from 2024,” he said.

“The first of those are already being tested, and will begin serving passengers in north Wales this year.”

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Y Cymro
Y Cymro
2 years ago

Forget using Hydrogen to power trains in Wales, use all the hot air expelled from that white elephant Welsh Office in London. And although this Welsh Government idea is admirable , Welsh rail infrastructure needs far more investment that Hydrogen powered trains. If we had true interconnectivity could utilise those trains to take goods off our roads and motorways improving our environment. Simply we don’t have the resources or ability to raise finances only having £1 billion borrowing powers. This because Soviet Whitehall still controls our finances. No other country would accept another nation holding a fiscal knife up to… Read more »

Peter Cuthbert
Peter Cuthbert
2 years ago

This sounds like a useful experiment. However, perhaps the picture at the head of the story says it all. A diesel powered class 175 on some electrified track. According to figures on the Internet, the conversion of electricity to hydrogen is between 65% and 70% efficient. Burning that energy in an internal combustion engine is given as up to 40% efficient. So overall that is 26% efficiency at converting electricity into motion. By contrast electric motors are between 76% and 96% efficient at turning electricity into motion. So if the Tories continue to stop Wales getting its fair share of… Read more »

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