Scotland Plans to Build and Test a Hydrogen-Powered Train

By Gary Cutlack on at

Some old and retired ScotRail rolling stock is about to get a new lease of life, as plans are afoot to convert one electric train into a cutting-edge hydrogen model with the potential to revolutionise and decarbonise the stubborn rural diesel remnants of our railways.

Scotland wants to decarbonise its rail network by 2035 anyway, so that's one of the drivers behind the scheme. An old ScotRail Class 314 train that formerly ran on electrified lines is to be converted by local engineering firm and train refurb specialist Brodie Engineering, with development help from hydrogen and fuel cell expert Arcola Energy and input from the University of St Andrews.

The catch is that at the moment fuel-grade hydrogen is more expensive than diesel, but Arcola's boss Dr Ben Todd thinks a renewable solution, where excess overnight power from turbines is used to create local hydrogen reserves exclusively for rail power, could be the answer, particularly around Scotland's wilder, non-electrified routes, where diesels are currently king and unlikely to be deposed any time soon, because electrifying 90 miles of track for three fairly empty trains a day is clearly madness. We need a "major change to the energy system" Todd says, and within the next 15 years too, if that 2035 date is going to be hit. [Scotsman]

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