Vivarail joins Alstom in development of hydrogen-powered trains

- Saxony, Germany
Vivarail will use Transport for Wales' existing fleet design

The UK has joined the race to bring emission-free rail travel to the tracks, after the train manufacturer Vivarail began development of its own hydrogen-powered train. Coming around a month after Alstom unveiled similar ambitions, Vivarail said it was in an ideal position to bring its technology to market because it was the only train builder that had a fully approved base train to work from.

Vivarail’s train, which will reportedly have a range of 650 miles, is based on designs of the new fleet for the Transport for Wales franchise that took up the former Arriva contract in October 2018. Using pre-existing designs is something that Vivarail maintains stands the company in good stead because it won’t have to start from scratch, giving it the freedom to have to solely develop the hydrogen technology. “All research and development can concentrate on optimising design and performance rather than working out where to house the cells,” read a statement from the company.

For the design, Vivarail’s Class 230 trains will store the hydrogen equipment beneath the floor of the train instead of associated tanks and pipework being located inside, freeing up space inside the vehicle for more passengers. Inhibiting the same space as the previous diesel power unit, the hydrogen and battery packs powering the new train will be able to easily transition between each other as needed, says the manufacturer.

SmartRail World reported in September 2018 about the work that Alstom had undergone to bring hydrogen-powered trains to the Saxony region of Germany: Coradia iLint. The French train builder has been in the news more recently for the latest partnership that its begun with the train leasing company, Eversholt, for its latest hydrogen project, named Breeze.

Announced at the beginning of January, Alstom said that it too had a complete design on which to develop the hydrogen-powered trains after it finalised the look of its Breeze rolling stock following completion of a “comprehensive engineering study”. Alstom’s hydrogen train that it is working on with Eversholt Rail could be up and running by 2022.

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