IMechE: Hydrogen trains ‘no replacement for electrification’

The move to develop hydrogen-powered trains is a vital part of the process to improve air quality, but must not be seen as an easy replacement for electrification schemes, according to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Alstom’s iLint hydrogen-powered multiple unit on display at Innotrans, Berlin, in 2016. CHRIS MILNER

The report emphasises hydrogen trains could be seen as a solution by Government to avoid expensive electrification schemes, but stresses hydrogen trains should only be seen as an option where electrification is not the most economical or technically viable, for example on rural routes.

The IMechE acknowledges less than 50% of the UK network is currently electrified, and the remaining half is unlikely to be ‘wired’, with Government plans to phase-out the use of diesel-only trains by 2040. It suggests three priority areas for action: 

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