Image: Alstom

Alstom, the top train manufacturer and maintenance provider in the United Kingdom, and Eversholt Rail, the biggest train owner and financier in the United Kingdom, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding to develop the UK’s first-ever brand-new hydrogen train fleet.

The two firms have decided to collaborate, with Alstom exchanging technical and commercial knowledge essential to design, build, commission, and support a fleet of 10 three-car hydrogen multiple units (HMUs). Alstom will construct these in the United Kingdom. The new HMU fleet will be built on the most recent version of the Alstom Aventra platform, with definitive contracts for the fleet expected to be finalized in early 2022.

Eversholt Rail and Alstom are dedicated to playing a key role in assisting the UK and Scottish governments in their efforts to decarbonize their rail sectors by 2040, and the Scottish Government’s goal of decarbonizing by 2035. Alstom is a global pioneer in rolling stock solutions and was the first business to commercialize a hydrogen-powered train – the Coradia iLint – in Germany.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s Managing Director, UK & Ireland said: “COP26 is a reminder of just how urgent the need to decarbonise our world is. Rail is already the lowest emission transport mode, but we can do even more, and I am delighted that we have concluded this agreement with our friends at Eversholt Rail which will lead to Britain’s first ever fleet of new hydrogen trains.”

Mary Kenny, Eversholt Rail’s CEO said: “It is important that we start sooner rather than later to decarbonise UK Rail if we are to meet the 2050 ‘net-zero’ target. Hydrogen propulsion will play an important role, and this project with Alstom will demonstrate how the private sector can work together to make a difference.”

Alstom and Eversholt Rail previously collaborated on a hydrogen rolling stock solution for the UK rail sector, involving the conversion of an existing Electric Multiple Unit to hydrogen power – the ‘Breeze’ project. Both businesses now feel that a market exists for a fleet of new trains to be used by train operators throughout the United Kingdom. The breadth, depth, and experience obtained through the Breeze project, together with stakeholder comments on future fleet strategies, aided in defining the product planning process significantly.

The Aventra single-deck train was developed to meet the requirements of mainline train operations, ranging from high-capacity metro systems to intercity services. Aventra trains are modular in nature, from carriage length to interior layout and design. They are easily adaptable to meet the needs of individual customers while keeping basic characteristics such as a lightweight carbody and reduced lifetime costs.

Nedim Husomanovic

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