Carbon-cutting rail scheme shares in multi-million pound government funding boost

W Vivarail

Five innovative projects from across the UK, including one from Stratford-upon-Avon, are to receive £350,000 each from government to adapt their schemes for the UK rail network.

Manufacturer Alstom, engineering company Viva Rail, and rolling stock owners Angel Trains and Porterbrook are developing a range of alternatively-fuelled trains for the UK network, including battery hybrids and hydrogen powered units. The other project is looking at potential battery hybrid trains on the Lakes Line in Cumbria.

A government report concluded that the removal of diesel-only passenger trains can be achieved by 2040, and outlines aims for further investment on a range of alternatives including bi-modes, hydrogen and battery trains.

Long Marston headquartered Vivarail is the UK’s only homegrown train manufacturer and the only company with a proven, tested design ready to bring hydrogen trains into service today.

In four years Vivarail has grown from start-up to full train manufacturer.

The company has revealed new visuals for its hydrogen train showing how its unique modular design will mean more seats for passengers as well as emission-free travel.

Vivarail says that its launch of new technologies to the UK market means it is the only train manufacturer with a fully approved base train to work from. The hydrogen train will follow the design of the Transport for Wales fleet with two driving motor cars powered by Hoppecke batteries, the only difference being that instead of a diesel genset beneath the intermediate car the hydrogen train will have two carriages housing the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks.

Unlike other trains the Vivarail Class 230s will store all the equipment beneath the floor making a much more stream-lined and efficient vehicle able to carry more passengers and deliver faster journey times.

Hydrogen train development is at an exciting point and with the need to cut the UK’s carbon emissions and phase out diesel trains by 2040 there will be rapid movement by manufacturers to bring these trains to market.  Knowledge and technology transfer from the automotive and bus industries will be vital to the implementation of hydrogen fuel to rail, says Vivarail, as will the ability to make use of existing and planned infrastructure.

Vivarail is the only train manufacturer to have built and run a pure battery train – launching unit 230002 in October 2018 and carrying passengers on the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway. While demonstrating that emission-free travel is possible on the railway, the train is also a key part of Vivarail’s on-going drive to build green trains.