Britain’s first full-sized hydrogen train is to star at Rail Live, which opens at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre (QRTC) on June 19.
The ‘HydroFLEX’ demonstrator has been converted from a Class 319 electric multiple unit, in a partnership between rolling stock company Porterbrook and the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, which exhibited its 10¼in-gauge locomotive Hydrogen Hero at last year’s event.
BCRRE Managing Director Alex Burrows told RAIL the ‘HydroFLEX’ concept was born at Rail Live 2018:
“We set ourselves a bigger challenge for the next Rail Live, and this is the result.
“This is leading research in the UK – being done in the UK and with UK suppliers. If you can’t get electrification in certain places, hydrogen is a feasible alternative to diesel.”
In addition to being fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell, converted 319001 retains its ability to draw power from either the 750V DC third-rail or 25kV overhead wires. No full-sized hydrogen-powered train has yet run in the UK, but Alstom’s ‘Coradia iLint’ entered service in Germany last year. Porterbrook and BCRRE’s tie-up was formally signed at the InnoTrans trade show in Berlin in September (RAIL 862).
Rail Live was relaunched in 2018 by RAIL magazine publisher Bauer Media in association with the Rail Alliance. This year it is expected to attract around 400 exhibitors and 6,000 visitors to the QRTC at Long Marston in Warwickshire. It is the only exhibition to bring together the entire UK rail industry in a real railway environment.
Exhibits at the 2018 event included more than £0.5 billion worth of rail plant and over £20 million in locomotives and rolling stock. These included a Bombardier Crossrail Class 345 ‘Aventra’, Direct Rail Services Class 88, Vivarail’s battery ‘D-Train’, and Porterbrook’s bi-mode Class 769 ‘Flex’.
Live demonstrations by a number of organisations included those by the British Transport Police, such as on protestor removal and policing at height. The event was also served by its own direct train from London Paddington to a dedicated platform at Long Marston.
Speakers at Rail Live 2019 will include Network Rail Chief Executive Andrew Haines, who will explain his vision for the organisation and the opportunities for change in rail that now exist. Department for Transport deputy director of industrial strategy Shamit Gaiger is to give a presentation on the Government’s Rail Sector Deal and the chances it provides for suppliers