The Anonymous Widower

Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And The Uckfield Branch

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I give my thoughts on Alstom’s new hydrogen train, which I have called the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra.

One possible route for the trains could be the Uckfield Branch, which has an hourly service from London Bridge via East Croydon and Oxted stations?

  • The route is forty-six miles long, with the Northernmost twenty-one miles electrified with 750 VDC third-rail electrification.
  • On each trip, the train would need to run for fifty miles without electrification.
  • There are seven stops on the route.
  • The platforms on the Uckfield Branch can handle a 240 metre train.
  • Trains take around three hours for the round trip.
  • Each train probably does around five round trips per day.

So would Alstom Hydrogen Aventras be able to work the route?

  • The length of a three-car Alstom Hydrogen Aventra is probably around 72 metres.
  • Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras working together would be 216 metres.
  • Aventras can be configured to work on 750 VDC third rail electrification.
  • The capacity of a nine-car formation of Alstom Hydrogen Aventra would be similar to that of a ten-car Electrostar, which has shorter cars.

Three Alstom Hydrogen Aventra trains working together could seem to be a possible solution for the route.

These are my thoughts.

The Required Range

If each train has to do five round trips, with each needing fifty miles on hydrogen, the trains would need a range in excess of 250 miles, whilst running on hydrogen.

Refuelling With Hydrogen

This would probably be done at a depot setup to service the hydrogen trains, where they would be stabled at night.

I doubt that London Bridge or Uckfield stations would be suitable places to refuel

The Number Of Trains

In Battery Electrostars And The Uckfield Branch, I estimated that three ten- or twelve-car trains would be needed to run an hourly service. Running half-hourly would need six trains.

As each nine-car train would need three Alstom Hydrogen Aventras, an hourly service would need a total of nine and a half-hourly service would need eighteen individual trains.

I suspect that this would not be a cost effective way of using the trains, as a lot of trains would need to refuelled every day.


I am not saying that Alstom Hydrogen Aventras couldn’t work the Uckfield Branch, but I’m sure there are are better ways to decarbonise the route.

November 12, 2021 - Posted by | Hydrogen | , , , , ,


  1. You are definitely correct about the Hydrogen Aventra not being the optimal solution for the the Uckfield branch. I’m sure somewhere like Paddington to Oxford or other routes used by Class 16X would be more suitable.
    As for stabling and refuelling the Aventra, if used on London Bridge to Uckfield route it would have to be Selhurst Depot.

    Comment by fammorris | November 12, 2021 | Reply

    • There’s a lot more to come. One of the problems is that this train is only three-cars. Oxford like Uckfield needs a train of at least nine-cars.

      Three-three-car units working as a long train is not good operationally, but two five-cars as a ten-car is. Greater Anglia ditched their ten-car units and now run fives all the time.

      Comment by AnonW | November 13, 2021 | Reply

  2. Batteries are the only answer and I would say the best solution on any route where a service runs partially over an electrified route as that simplifies recharging infrastructure if not eliminating it on many routes ie Windermere although not Uckfield unless you turnover part of the train to more battery storage but weight will then be an issue for what the coach body can support without having to be modified.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 12, 2021 | Reply

    • I think Alstom’s design allows both hydrogen or battery trains in the same basic design. It all depends on the route, what an operator might choose.

      I’m also starting to think that on a long route, like say Salisbury and Exeter or Edinburgh and Inverness, that a hydrogen locomotive might be a better idea. Especially, if the locomotive can also be used for freight, as that might give the advantages of numbers.

      Comment by AnonW | November 13, 2021 | Reply

      • Given the space needed for the gas cyclinders and other gubbins I actually feel locos are far more suitable for hydrogen so may well make a comeback They also allow it all to be kept separated from the passenger vehicles.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 13, 2021

      • Only point I’d raise about Loco hauled stock compared to distributed power is the loss of versatility in setting your train consist for high and low passenger demand throughout the day. Not so important on some of the longer distance routes but wouldn’t suit Waterloo – Exeter train operation.

        Comment by fammorris | November 13, 2021

      • Agreed but fixed formation 12 cars on routes previously run by 4 cars off peak in Tlk were deemed more cost effective and reliable than all the splitting and joining. So with DVTs these days locos don’t have the restrictions they once did to operations and resource needs for shunters.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 14, 2021

  3. […] Alstom Hydrogen Aventras And The Uckfield Branch […]

    Pingback by Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet « The Anonymous Widower | November 13, 2021 | Reply

  4. I tend to agree, but the sooner we get an alternative to fuel cells the better. Watch the video about JCB, in the post I just put up.

    Comment by AnonW | November 13, 2021 | Reply

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