Siemens acclaims hydrogen’s net zero potential for the UK

Siemens has hailed hydrogen power as having “huge potential” to help decarbonise UK railways and meet the country’s net zero deadline.

Speaking to RAIL after demonstrating the company’s Mireo Plus H hydrogen train at Wildenrath in Germany on September 9, Siemens Mobility UK and Ireland’s Managing Director Rolling Stock & Customer Services Sambit Banerjee warned that current electrification proposals “could take until 2060 and beyond to complete”.

“This means leaving polluting diesel trains on the network for more than ten years after the UK’s legislative net zero date,” he said.

Short of electrifying a minimum of 300 miles “every year until 2050”, Banerjee declared: “Self-powered trains utilising alternative power sources, such as hydrogen or battery, must be introduced by 2030 to help meet decarbonisation targets.”

He said there was a “clear case” for hydrogen or hydrogen bi-mode trains on routes including Aberdeen-Penzance, the Chiltern Main Line, Norwich-Liverpool, and Waterloo-Exeter.

“I must mention Scotland are leading the way on rail decarbonisation, with targets for 2035, a well-defined strategy, and already approved procurement for electrification and new, clean rolling stock,” Banerjee told RAIL.

His comments echo those of the Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Policy Statement issued in 2020, which suggests that hydrogen trains “are seen as a realistic and affordable option for Scotland in the second half of this decade”.

That policy perceives hydrogen fleets as a potential transitional step before electrification, “as well as providing a permanent solution on more remote, less intensively used sections of the network where full-scale electrification is either not economic or desirable for environmental reasons”.

Banerjee’s comments come after September 9’s formal launch of Germany’s ‘H2 goes Rail’ - a collaboration between Siemens and state-owned railway Deutsche Bahn (DB) to roll out hydrogen-powered trains using ‘green’ hydrogen produced from renewable sources.

Core to that is the Mireo Plus H, which in two-car form has a range of up to 800km (500 miles) and a top speed of 160kph (100mph). Siemens says the three-car version has a range of 1,000km.

The full story is available in the latest issue of RAIL (966)

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