THE British government needs to order a fleet of hydrogen trains as soon as possible in order to support green jobs and investment across the country, according to the Railway Industry Association (RIA).

Responding to the publication of the government’s Hydrogen Strategy which sets out how industries including the transport sector can be supported by the development of hydrogen economies, RIA technical director, Mr David Clarke, says if Britain’s railways are to be fully decarbonised by 2050 then work needs to start now.

“Network Rail has identified that up to 1300km of railway lines will require hydrogen trains in order to achieve the government’s ‘Net Zero by 2050’ goal,” Clarke says. “Yet, as we say in RIA’s Rail Decarbonisation Campaign 21, if we are to successfully decarbonise our rail network we need to get started today, in 2021, both electrifying railways lines and beginning the production of hydrogen and battery trains.”

“As the government considers the roll out of this strategy, and the use of hydrogen in decarbonising the economy, we ask them to heed our ask to commit now to fleet orders of hydrogen rolling stock - in order to support green jobs and investment up and down the country.”

The strategy states that while electrification will likely be the best solution due to the performance characteristics of electric trains there will be role for other technologies including battery and hydrogen.

While there have been hydrogen prototypes built in Britain, including HydroFLEX designed by Porterbrook using a former class 319 EMU and a project in Scotland using a redundant class 314 EMU, there has so far not been any order for a dedicated hydrogen fleet. Alstom is currently working on building a class 600 Breeze prototype from a redundant class 321 from which it hopes to win orders for the three-car trains, probably with Northern.