Alstom and Eversholt Rail push forward with their Hydrogen train conversion progamme – Economy Class & Beyond


Editors note: I had this to publish last week, but things have been more than a little busy, that I forgot to hit the magic button. It’s still relevant, so please enjoy.

and are to push forward with their Hydrogen train conversion programme, by investing a further £1 million investment in British hydrogen trains, creating an entirely new class of train, the Eversholt Rail Class 600 series.

Alstom Class 600 Breeze – Image, Alstom/Eversholt Rail

The Breeze “Class 600” multiple units will be converted from existing rolling stock – the Class 321 Electrical Multiple Unit . These are currently used on commuter services on Greater Anglia network, as well as a variant used on the ScotRail network.

The trains are planned to 3 car units, which would be suited to regional rail services on routes that are not currently electrified.

The Hydrogen-powered trains will be built at Alstom’s Widnes Transport Technology Centre, in the North West of England.

When powered by green hydrogen, these trains offer true zero-emission mobility, not just zero-emission at point of use. The only emission from a hydrogen train is water; it produces no harmful particulates or gaseous emissions.

Of course, this will mean obtaining hydrogen from green sources.

Alstom is not new to the hydrogen-powered train game – its something they’ve worked on with the Coradia iLint in Germany, with the first one entering service in September 2018, operating on the Buxtehude-Bremervörde-Bremerhaven-Cuxhaven line in Lower Saxony, Germany, with further trains ordered for deployment in the Frankfurt Rheine-Main area.

According to Alstom, the new investment will ensure that Breeze trains are ready for swift deployment in the UK wherever electrification with overhead wires might be impractical or visually intrusive.

In quotes

Nick Crossfield, Alstom Managing Director, UK & Ireland said

“It’s time to jump-start the UK hydrogen revolution. With the Government looking to invest in green technologies, Alstom and Eversholt Rail have deepened our already extensive commitment to this job-creating technology with a further million-pound investment. This bold move to back the Government’s ambitions on hydrogen means we are the only game in town if you want a shovel ready British hydrogen train. The Breeze is good to go, wherever the Government commits to upgrading Britain’s railway with hydrogen trains,”

Mary Kenny, CEO of Eversholt Rail, said

“Eversholt Rail has a proud record of innovation in key rolling stock technologies and this further investment in the Breeze programme demonstrates our commitment to providing timely, cost-effective solutions to the identified need for hydrogen trains to support the decarbonisation of the UK railway”.

Continuing the upcycling theme – but entry into service will matter.

It’s welcome to see Alstom and Eversholt push forward with the Breeze Programme and no doubt – challenges will appear. Rolling stock companies have been seeking a second life for some of their trains as older units have been pulled out of service.

Two examples of this are the D-Train (the Class 230 by VivaRail, upcycled from London Underground D Stock) and Class 769 (upcycled from the BREL Class 319 by Wabtech Brush and Porterbrook).

Both of these had delayed entry into service (with the Class 230 now in service which suffered a four-month delay, whilst the Class 769 is still awaiting entry into service (which was expected to enter service in Mid-2018).

For Breeze, currently, it has no customers for the train. But should it attract a customer, it will need to deliver an appropriate entry into service and on-time.

That will be the real challenge.

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