ALSTOM has announced that it is creating a new innovation centre in Canada’s Greater Montreal area tasked with developing green methods of rail transport propulsion.

The centre will be located at Alstom’s Americas headquarters in St-Bruno-de-Montarville, Quebec. The establishment of such a centre was a key commitment made by the group at the time of the acquisition of Bombardier Transportation, a €5.5bn deal completed at the end of January 2021.

The new innovation centre's main mission will be to develop the future platforms for green hybrid, battery or hydrogen propulsion technologies specifically tailored to the North American rail freight and passenger market, and in doing so to meet the sector's decarbonisation needs.

The centre’s work will be led by Mr Éric Rondeau, who has a proven track record in the field of transport electrification and recently worked as senior strategic advisor to Investissement Québec International and the Quebec Ministry of Economy and Innovation to develop and deploy the Quebec battery industry.

Dedicated prototyping facilities will also be close at hand and Alstom says the new innovation centre will be equipped with the latest virtual and augmented reality equipment as an aid to developing future methods of green energy propulsion.

The centre's engineers will work closely with other organisations involved in Quebec's research and innovation sector, as well as with industrial partners in the Quebec battery and hydrogen industry. In particular, the centre will work with the Hydrogen Research Institute (HRI) of the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) on developing a refuelling and operating ecosystem for hydrogen propulsion. It will also participate in McGill University's Sustainable Growth Initiative, a think tank aimed at providing companies and governments with innovative solutions to accelerate the transition to green energy in transport.

“We will now expand our capacity with products specifically tailored to the geographic, climatic and regulatory realities of the North American market,” says Mr Michael Keroullé, president of Alstom Americas. “Quebec’s assets and business environment, combined with our design and engineering expertise here in St-Bruno, provide us with a unique environment to innovate and grow."

"Unlike Europe or Asia, the rail network in Canada and the US is barely 1% electrified,” says Mr Éric Rondeau. “It is used by 27,000 diesel locomotives every day, which is a significant proportion of the carbon footprint of our companies. Efforts to make this mode of transport greener must be stepped up, in particular by providing public decision-makers and our customers with proven electric propulsion technologies. It will be this innovation centre's role to develop these new innovative platforms or to adapt them to meet the challenges of the region.”