The first-ever hydrogen-powered train will run on the UK mainline today in a big step forward towards the UK’s net-zero targets, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced, as he visited the start of trials in Warwickshire.
The trials of the train, known as HydroFLEX, which have been supported with a £750,000 grant from the Department for Transport (DfT), follow almost 2 years’ development work and more than £1 million of investment by both Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
Unlike diesel trains, hydrogen-powered trains do not emit harmful gases, instead of using hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity, water, and heat. The ground-breaking technology behind the trains will also be available by 2023 to retrofit current in-service trains to hydrogen, helping decarbonize the rail network and make rail journeys greener and more efficient.
The Transport Secretary also announced the ambition for Tees Valley to become a trailblazing Hydrogen Transport Hub. Bringing together representatives from academia, industry and government to drive forward the UK’s plans to embrace the use of hydrogen as an alternative fuel could create hundreds of jobs while seeing the region become a global leader in the green hydrogen sector.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “As we continue on our road to a green recovery, we know that to really harness the power of transport to improve our country – and to set a global gold standard – we must truly embed change.
“That’s why I’m delighted that, through our plans to build back better, we’re embracing the power of hydrogen and the more sustainable, greener forms of transport it will bring.”To kick-start this exciting development in Tees Valley, the DfT have commissioned a masterplan to understand the feasibility of the hub and how it can accelerate the UK’s ambitions in hydrogen.
The masterplan, expected to be published in January, will pave the way for exploring how green hydrogen could power buses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), rail, maritime, and aviation transport across the UK.
The aim would then be for the region to become a global leader in industrial research on the subject of hydrogen as a fuel, as well as research and development (R&D) hub for hydrogen transport more generally, attracting hundreds of jobs and boosting the local economy in the process.