The Anonymous Widower

Is The Alstom Hydrogen Train Powered By A Fuel Cell?

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I mentioned that Alstom’s Hydrogen Aventra could be powered by either a small gas turbine or a fuel cell or cells, but I didn’t plump for one or the other. I said this.

If you look at the proportions of the Alstom hydrogen train and the pictures of Class 710 trains, I feel that the Alstom train could have the longer twenty-four metre cars.

It may be a tight fit compared to creating the Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen train, but I would feel it is possible to install a fuel cell or cells, the required cooling and the hydrogen tanks, having seen cutaway drawings of hydrogen-powered double-deck buses on the Wrightbus web site.

Interestingly, the Alstom press release doesn’t mention fuel cells, so could the train be powered by a small gas turbine?

I think it is unlikely, but it is technically feasible.

I had forgotten one important factor. Both the Aventra factory and Rolls-Royce are in Derby and I know from talking to a retired British Rail engineer, that there is a lot of contact between the two companies at an informal level.

Rolls-Royce have published this picture of their beer keg-sized generator.

Would it need the cooling system, which appears to be needed with a fuel-cell?

The Rolls-Royce Advantage

There would surely be advantages in using a Rolls-Royce gas turbine to power the train.

  • Having a Rolls-Royce power unit must help sales of your plane or train.
  • There is the Derby connection.
  • Alstom already deal with Rolls-Royce subsidiary; MTU for diesel engines for freight locomotives.

Could we be seeing a hydrogen multiple unit powered by a gas turbine?

November 23, 2021 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , ,


  1. looks a bit larger than a beer keg to find room for it in the underframe would need a shrunk version but using hydrogen as a raw fuel looks a better bet than the conversion losses of a fuel cell.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | November 23, 2021 | Reply

  2. Have look at YouTube – Harrys Garage – where he talks to J Bamford of JCB.

    JCB make lots of their own engines. The cylinder head has been modified to use hydrogen fuel injection instead of diesel.

    Note – about 25 minutes long and please do watch all of it.

    Comment by chilterntrev | November 23, 2021 | Reply

  3. Thanks! I have seen the video before, but I do feel it is valid route.

    Comment by AnonW | November 23, 2021 | Reply

  4. Yes it uses a Hydrogenics fuel cell stack. Hydrogenics is a Cummins company.

    Comment by fammorris | November 23, 2021 | Reply

    • Thanks! I’ve done work for Cummins. Good, thinking company, who have a lot to lose from hydrogen, but have taken action by buying Hydrogenics and developing hydrogen internal combustion engines.

      Comment by AnonW | November 24, 2021 | Reply

  5. The June edition of Modern Railways has the following extract which relates to your post.
    “Alstom’s proposed pilot scheme would start with 10 three-car Breeze Class 600 units replacing two-car Class 156 and 158 DMUs within four years of the contract being awarded. That gives a start date of around 2026.” It shouldn’t be seen as a pilot scheme. “Northern (Raill) is clear it would be ‘a revenue-earning fleet deployment, not a trial”.

    Comment by fammorris | November 28, 2021 | Reply

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