Goodbye to diesel trains?

By | Category: Travel news

what the new hydrogen train will look like after conversion. Image © Alstom/Evershot

Anyone who has used a train will be familiar with the diesel workhorse trains that chug along the veins of Britain’s rail network whilst the electric trains confine themselves to popular long range services and commuter ones.

They can be noisy, they aren’t particularly eco-friendly but, on the plus side, they have saved me from delays on the East Coast line when the 225’s are halted by frozen overhead cables.

Could the diesels be on the way out?

Alstom and Eversholt Rail have suggested the design of a new hydrogen train.

The train, codenamed ‘Breeze’, will be a conversion of existing Class 321 trains and could run across the UK as early as 2022, emitting only water and no harmful emissions at all.  Those living in East Anglia and the line from Leeds to Doncaster would be familiar with the 100 of these type of trains still running. They are both due to be withdrawn by the relevant train companies, Greater Anglia and Northern, over the next eighteen months or so and  Alstom/Eversholt Rail think they can have them converted during the following two years.

Alstom already runs some hydrogen trains in Germany, which is why the partners feel comfortable with the timetable they have suggested,

The biggest appeal has to be the big cuts in C02 emissions that would come about if  diesel trains were to be completely replaced by hydrogen trains.

The government has already said that diesel trains will be phased out by 2040 so, if these trains turn out to be reliable then diesel could be phased out even earlier which would help the government reach its reduction in C02 emissions targets. In France they are also experimenting with hydrogen trains as diesel is to be phased out there by 2015. Malaysia, Dubai and Canada are also seriously looking to switch to this form of transport.

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