Scottish hydrogen rail project begins

A hydrogen-powered train project has begun in Scotland to illustrate the power source ahead of the nation’s COP26 climate summit this year.

The scheme, which will see a retired ScotRail CLass 314 electric set converted to hydrogen power, is part of a Scottish Enterprise project. The aim of the programme, in partnership with Transport Scotland and the University of St Andrews’ Hydrogen Accelerator, is to bring skills for the future of the rail industry into the supply chain – and create opportunities for local businesses.

The work will be carried out by a consortium led by hydrogen technology firm Arcola Energy with the aim to showcase the refurbished train at the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November.

Speaking about the project, Scottish transport secretary, Michael Matheson, said: “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.”

 Scottish Enterprise interim CEO Linda Hanna said: “There are huge opportunities for SMEs in Scotland’s rail supply chain from this project and a key step towards our ambitions of creating an international rail cluster here in Scotland.

“The close working of our public sector, academia and business will be a real draw, with the added bonus of our third sector being involved via the the Scottish Railway Preservation Society in Bo’ness. And as well as the project benefitting from the expertise of the volunteers and local contractors, it is fantastic this jewel in our tourism sector will receive a boost at a time when it is so needed.”

Dr Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy, added: “Hydrogen traction power offers a safe, reliable and zero-carbon alternative for Scotland’s rail network. The hydrogen train project is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders in hydrogen, train engineering and safety to collaborate with local technology providers to develop a deployment ready solution.”

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