Alstom sets out plans for UK hydrogen-powered trains

Alstom is targeting 2021-22 for its first hydrogen-powered trains to enter revenue-earning service in the UK.

It follows the company’s announcement in May that it would work with Eversholt Rail to convert Class 321 electric multiple units to hydrogen operation by fitting on-board tanks for the gas, which when combined with oxygen can produce an electric current to charge fuel cells for traction (RAIL 853).

If successful, the trains would enter service in the UK at roughly the same time as in Germany, where Alstom has a contract to deliver 14 hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint trains to the Local Transport Authority of Lower Saxony by December 2021 (RAIL 840).

In April, two two-car prototypes commenced a two-year pilot study on the German network, funded by federal authorities. 

Eversholt Rail owns 101 four-car Class 321s that are currently operated by Greater Anglia and a further three four-car units operated by Northern. All are due to go off-lease by the end of 2019.

Alstom’s head of business development Mike Muldoon was unable to confirm to RAIL how many ‘321s’ would be converted, because of the commercial sensitivity of its ongoing discussions with a number of UK operators.

He told RAIL: “The ‘321’ fleet is fairly numerous, which fits with our objective of achieving multiple deployments. We are looking to secure a large fleet deployment, not just one or two trains, and are working with a number of operators."

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 856, published on July 4, and available digitally on Android/iPad from June 30.
  • For more on Alstom's hydrogen trains, read Alstom’s elemental advantage, published in RAIL 840, available digitally on Android/iPad.
  • For more on the '321' plans, read Alstom bids to develop hydrogen power using ‘321s’, published in RAIL 853, available digitally on Android/iPad.


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  • AndrewJG8918 - 26/06/2018 16:12

    At least there is life left in the 30+ year old Class 321 units that are to be converted into Hydrogen multiple unit trains and possibly some to become Bi-Mode units. As Greater Anglia are replacing them with the Class 720’s Aventra & Stadler Flirt fleets. What about Class 317’s. Could they also be converted into Hydrogen or Hybrid trains.

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  • AndrewJG8918 - 27/06/2018 16:13

    The Purple Class 321’s that Greater Anglia have inherited from Great Northern could of be transferred to Northern to operate on the Leeds-Doncaster route via Wakefield Westgate to work alongside the Class 321/9’s and Class 322’s.

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  • Paul Sleightholm - 29/06/2018 10:37

    Why are we having re-engineered class 321 to be Hydrogen trains when Germany are testing hydrogen-powered Coradia iLint trains , yet again we have a old fashion approach of Eversholt want to squeeze the last drop out of the tax payers instead of investing in new trains. Second class trains again for the long suffering British public, we should be leaders in this field and be creating jobs by building new hydrogen trains.

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