Smart Transport

Scotland on track to introduce hydrogen rail this year

Ben Todd and Michael Matheson

Arcola Energy and a rail consortium will deliver a production-ready hydrogen train in Scotland by November this year.

The Consortium will demonstrate the hydrogen powered train during COP26, hosted by Glasgow City, from November 1-12, 2021.

The project will form part of Scotland’s goal to make its rail network net zero by 2035.

Acrola and the consortium have been appointed by Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, based at the University of St Andrews, to lead the project.

A key objective of the project is to create opportunities for the Scottish rail supply chain through skills development and industrialisation of the technology.

The project is supported by rail engineering and safety experts Arup and Abbott Risk Consulting to form an integrated delivery team, with AEGIS providing regulatory third-party verification.

Dr Ben Todd, Arcola Energy chief executive, said hydrogen power offers a zero-carbon alternative for Scotland’s rail network.

He said: “The hydrogen train project is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders in hydrogen, rail engineering and safety to collaborate with Scottish technology providers to develop a deployment ready solution.”

Arcola Energy will develop the technology platform for the train’s new powertrain from its planned new Scottish base.

Arcola’s existing A-Drive platform will be extended to meet rail safety and compliance requirements, thereby enabling the consortium to significantly reduce development time and cost to deliver a complete hydrogen powered solution in just 10 months.

Project partner Arup will use the learnings from the project to develop a roadmap to roll out hydrogen trains to support the decarbonisation of Scotland’s network.

Clare Lavelle, Scotland Energy Business Lead, Arup, said: “This project is not only a crucial step in helping us understand the practical challenges of using hydrogen traction power on our railways, but an example of the type of investment Scotland needs to take advantage of the opportunity to build a secure, flexible, cost effective and zero carbon energy network.”

Based at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, the consortium will convert a Class 314 car passenger train, made available by ScotRail, into a deployment-ready and certified platform for hydrogen powered train development.

Following demonstrations, the train will serve as a development platform for Scottish technology providers and academics as Scottish Enterprise and the Hydrogen Accelerator explore opportunities for Scotland’s hydrogen-enabled low carbon strategy.

The Bo'ness and Kinneil Railway will provide engineering facilities and support for testing and public demonstrations.

Scotland’s Transport Secretary Michael Matheson added: “This project has the potential to be a game changer for the future of Scotland’s rail rolling stock.

“Our Rail decarbonisation Action Plan sets out to make our passenger railways emissions free by 2035, but to maximise our climate change ambitions, there is also a requirement to look at what we do with retired stock.

“If we can bring those back into use in a carbon neutral way, there are huge climate gains to be made.”

 Transport Minister Rachel Maclean

Virtual Smart Transport Conference 2020 presentations available to view now

After three packed days of content the first Virtual Smart Transport Conference has come to a close, but delegates can now gain free access to rewatch all the presentations during the show.

How to watch the presentations

Videos can be accessed by heading to the Agenda & Live Stream section of the Virtual Smart Transport Conference event website and choosing sessions to watch from across the three days.

The event featured thought leadership presentations from over 45 key stakeholders from the public and private sector, with opening statements from transport minister Rachel Maclean (pictured) and Mayor for Greater Manchester Combined Authority Andy Burnham.

Watch now



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