Rolling stock leasing company director cites Alstom’s trial of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered train in Germany as a potential option for UK railways. Hydrogen could provide free fuel for trains in the future, according to a director at rolling stock leasing company Porterbrook. Olivier André, Porterbrook’s commercial director, also said the technology could become a live option during the 15-year span of the next Wales and Borders franchise.
With Britain’s electrification programme having run into difficulties, many new diesel or bi-mode trains have been ordered. Porterbrook hopes to continue leasing electric multiple units, surplus to requirements in the London commuter area, by fitting them with diesel engines for operation on non-electrified lines in northern England and Wales.
However, André told a committee of the National Assembly for Wales that diesel did not have a guaranteed future. He commented: “When we developed this bi-mode train, diesel electric, there is always a risk of diesel going out of fashion and becoming unwanted sometime in the future, and I think hydrogen is probably a good solution.” He said surplus renewable energy from the National Grid at night or in off-peak hours could be used to produce hydrogen and “power trains for free, basically”.