The Anonymous Widower

What Will Happen To Northern’s Class 195 Trains?

Northern’s Class 195 trains could be a problem in the future.

  • They are diesel multiple units.
  • There are twenty-five two-car trains and thirty-three three-car trains.
  • All cars have a Rolls-Royce MTU 6H1800R85L diesel engine, that drives the train through a ZF EcoLife 6-speed transmission.
  • They are 100 mph trains, which is adequate for the routes they serve.
  • According to Wikipedia, the trains are designed for a lifespan of thirty-five years, which takes the trains past the date, when it is intended that all trains should be zero-carbon.

It looks to me, that a plan will be needed to decarbonise these trains, as they are probably too new and costly to scrap.

These are possibilities to upgrade them to zero-carbon.

Rebuild as Class 331 Electric Trains

The design of the Class 195 trains is based on the same platform as that of the Class 331 trains.

I would expect that it could be possible to rebuild the Class 195 trains as Class 331 trains.

But it would be an expensive and disruptive process and would require a lot of electrification.

Some battery-electric versions could be created to cut the need for electrification.

Run The Trains On Net-Zero Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil Or Other Fuels

In Powered By HVO, I wrote about research going on into the use of Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil or HVO.

There is also ongoing research into other net-zero fuels that can be used in a diesel engine.

The process used by Velocys to create sustainable aviation fuel can also be used to produce diesel from various sources like disposable nappies, household waste and scrap wood.

Run The Trains On A Dual Fuel Basis With Hydrogen

In Grand Central DMU To Be Used For Dual-Fuel Trial, I talk about how Grand Central in collaboration with a company called G-volution are running experiments with dual-fuelling a Class 180 train. G-volution state that they could dual fuel with hydrogen using their technology.

The Class 180 trains have Cummins engines, but I suspect G-volution’s technology or something similar could be applied to the Rolls-Royce MTU engines in the Class 195 trains.

This could be a very promising route.

Convert The Diesel Engines To Run On Hydrogen

Cummins and JCB have developed internal combustion engines, that can run on hydrogen. I would be very surprised if Rolls-Royce MTU are not developing this technology.


There are options to convert the Class 195 trains into low or zero-carbon trains.


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


  1. My guess is that they’ll use an alternative HVO fuel and be converted to a hybrid. The latter seems to be part of the equation for the future uprade of Ianrod Eireann’s Class 23000, while IE have already trialled alternative fuels on trains running between Dublin and Cork.

    Comment by fammorris | December 23, 2021 | Reply

  2. running on hydrogen seems best bet as long as its green origin. I would have also though a retrofit to a hydroflex approach ought to considered for mid life upgrades as well so they can recuperate energy during braking.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | December 23, 2021 | Reply

    • The problem with these trains is that they have a mechanical transmission, which would mean a complete rebuild to fit an electric transmission, that would allow regenerative braking.

      Converting the diesels to run on hydrogen is probably the best option to make them zero-carbon.

      I also think that MTU will come up with a well-thought out solution, as they wouldn’t want to lose the business.

      Comment by AnonW | December 23, 2021 | Reply

      • Both the Irish Class 22000 fleet and the Class 168 conversion being undertaken by Chiltern/Porterbrook will have MTU Hybrid Flex power packs.
        The Hybrid Flex is what is known as a parallel hybrid, the principle of which is shown in the link below. This arrangement does away with the ZF EcoWorld torque converter transmission.

        As you’ll see it incorporates both a diesel engine drive and a 400kW motor/generator so that drive can be blended. Approaching or leaving a station that drive can be 100% via the electrical drive, while away from the station drive can be gradually provided by the diesel engine via a transmission unit that together with a reversing gearbox may or may not incorporate an epicyclic speed change pack.

        At the moment I can only find this German language video, but the graphics contained in it show the conversion process, which it describes as Plug and Play. OK you have to find somewhere to install the batteries and there is some wiring for power circuits and control equipment, but I’m sure they’ve got that under control.

        Comment by fammorris | December 24, 2021

      • Thanks for putting in that diagram i had thought they were installing traction motors and batteries or is that another permutation thats being explored by others.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | December 24, 2021

      • Nicholas Lewis, I’m not aware of anybody planning to install axle mounted traction motors into a diesel ZF hydromechanical or Voith hydrodynamic equipped diesel multiple unit. To do so would be extremely expensive and would effectively mean fitting completely new bogies and contriving an immensely complex and heavy set of final drive units with the resulting unacceptable track forces, something that the permanent way engineers would baulk at.
        Chiltern and Angel Trains are however planning to test Magtec’s Hybrid Drive in a Class 165 dmu. This is a Series Hybrid concept that replaces the original Cummins engine with a two smaller laterally mounted engine AC generator sets and rectifiers via a DC link and inverter to the AC traction motor. The motor is in turn coupled to the existing Gmeinder final drives. When braking the motor acts as a generator to charge the traction batteries.
        See the Angel Trains video

        A Series Hybrid is illustrated in the following link. This is an illustration of an automotive application, so no axle differential would exist on a rail vehicle. Note that recuperated power is stored, in the Magtec case, in batteries and the reference to flywheel storage is a generalised alternative.

        Comment by fammorris | December 25, 2021

  3. How is the hydrogen used?

    Comment by Bunker | December 23, 2021 | Reply

  4. AnonW mentioned in his original post that engine manufacturers are developing internal combustion engines, that can run on hydrogen.
    Alternatively as Nicholas Lewis says in his post using hydrogen in a fuel cell solution similar to the Hydroflex Project currently being undertaken in the UK to drive an electric motor.

    Comment by fammorris | December 24, 2021 | Reply

    • They’re all at it. So far I’ve found Caterpillar, Cummins, JCB and MTU.

      But it would have been better if CAF had used an electric transmission, which is agnostic, as to where the electricity comes from.

      Comment by AnonW | December 24, 2021 | Reply

      • Just to put the small MTU engine used in railcars into context, it is an engine that originates from a joint Daimler Benz/MAN design project years ago (Daimler were supplying the core engine to MTU for rail and industrial applications back in the mid 1990s when I visited Friedrichshafen) so you’ve also got to add these two companies to the list of small engines who are engaged in hydrogen. On top of that Ford have a development contract with AVL in Graz, the world’s largest combustion technology company to develop hydrogen ICEs and Toyota are still pursuing the subject.
        Take in all of the large medium and high speed generating/marine engines of the likes of MWM, MAN, Jenbacher, Anglo Belgian, Wärtsilä, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Yamaha Motor which are also developing hydrogen solutions and you realise it’s not so much a case of who is, but who isn’t looking for a future that involves hydrogen and internal combustion.

        Comment by fammorris | December 24, 2021

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