Scottish Hydrogen Train project on track to deliver climate targets

1 min read

An innovative hydrogen train project led by the University of St Andrews has successfully completed its next phase of testing and is on track to help the Scottish Government meet its ambitious net zero carbon targets.

The project is a partnership between the University of St Andrews, Transport Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Ballard Motive Solutions, Abbott Risk Consulting, ARUP, Aegis, and Angel Trains. 

Testing of the hydrogen-powered train took place at the Scottish Rail Preservation Society located in Bo’ness last month (August), which included a series of workshops to define the future strategy for rail decarbonization in Scotland and provided demonstration runs of the train with key stakeholders and project partners.

The project entailed the conversion and re-use of a 40-year-old three-car Class 314 train to a hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain. The ex-Class 314 train has been re-tractioned and reclassified as a Class 614 hydrogen-powered train. Testing on track and the engineering development required to implement the conversion has kickstarted the growth of a critical skills base for hydrogen trains in Scotland.

Green hydrogen produced from the on-site electrolyzer connected to the temporary refueller played a key role during the demonstration of the project. Refueling infrastructure and its location will be critical to future train deployments. The funding support from Angel Trains for the electrolyzer was pivotal to delivering a train running on green hydrogen.

This innovative project has driven a huge amount of learning from converting existing rail rolling stock and has shown how this can create new supply chain opportunities and skills for the emerging green economy, while reducing emissions from the Scottish rail sector. The Scottish Government has set a target date to decarbonize passenger rail transport by 2035.

University of St Andrews Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson, said: “The University of St Andrews is leading the way in the transition to green energy. The hydrogen train project is a demonstration of our commitment to our own ambitious net zero targets and is a real demonstration of the collaborative approach and partnership working for societal benefit.”

The University of St Andrews has set an ambitious target of being net zero by 2035 and is placing sustainability at the heart of its strategy.

The project has demonstrated that Scotland has the capability to modify existing rolling stock into hydrogen-powered trains, playing a critical role in the climate challenge. It has also identified some of the very significant safety and operability challenges associated with implementing hydrogen propulsion on rolling stock that was designed to standards in place 40 years ago.