HydroFLEX Class 319 hydrogen train, source: Porterbrook

First British hydrogen train debuts in Warwickshire

HydroFLEX Class 319 hydrogen train, source: Porterbrook

HydroFLEX, first Britain’s hydrogen-powered train, has debuted in Warwickshire. It performed a maiden trip on Wednesday, 30 September. The Department for Transport expects that this kind of innovative trains will regularly run on the UK’s network by 2023.

“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,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said during his visit to Warwickshire on Wednesday, 30 September. This England’s county, which is famous as the birthplace of William Shakespeare, became a testbed for the first drives of a hydrogen-powered train in the United Kingdom. The Department for Transport is looking forward to this innovative rolling stock as an efficient means in decarbonising UK’s railways and replacing diesel multiple units. It is expected that the hydrogen-powered trains will start to perform scheduled services in Britain by 2023.

HydroFLEX project

HydroFLEX is a research project dedicated to creating the first British hydrogen train on a basis of a conventional electric multiple unit of Class 319. It is led by rolling stock owner Porterbrook, in partnership with the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE) and is supported by Ricardo Rail. To convert the electric-powered vehicle into the hydrogen one, there was installed hydrogen fuel tanks, a fuel cell and battery pack, to provide independent traction power capable of operation with zero carbon emissions.


In order for mainline testing to be allowed to proceed, the vehicle required approval by an EN17065 accredited certification body and an EN17020 accredited inspection body. Ricardo fulfilled these requirements with rolling stock experts preparing the vehicle Safety Case, whilst colleagues from Ricardo Certification undertook an assessment in accordance with RIS-2700-RST, producing an Attestation Statement along with the Safety Assessment Report as the project’s Assessment Body. This means that HydroFLEX is now able to commence with testing on Network Rail’s mainline infrastructure.

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Author: Mykola Zasiadko

Mykola Zasiadko is editor of online trade magazines RailTech.com and RailFreight.com.

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