The Anonymous Widower

Rolls-Royce And Porterbrook Agreement Will Drive Rail Decarbonisation

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Porterbrook.

This is the important part of the press release.

Rolls-Royce is teaming up with Porterbrook to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network. The two companies, who have signed a memorandum of understanding, will investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines. Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions* and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050. The UK Government has identified a number of different routes to this target including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce have issued a similar press release.

I believe this agreement could result in significant benefits to the UK rail industry, in respect to reduction in diesel consumption, noise and carbon emissions.

Examples could include.

Unfortunately, I can’t add more examples as there is no Porterbrook fleet list on their web site.

February 14, 2022 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , ,


  1. It would be worth knowing what Angel, and Eversholt if they’ve got any Turbostars (they originally had an all electric fleet) are doing regarding decarbonisation.
    It’s annoying that the Government used to publish who operates what. That seems to have stopped in 2019.
    OK consider fitting the Friedrichshafen product to Class 168 – 172, but beyond adopting HVO fuels is it really worth spending money on the pre-1996 Turbostars – different story for freight locos.
    I know that the HybridFLEX creates a raft where previously the power equipment was mounted independently but Class 158 – 166 themselves are at least 30 years old, and many of them could be replaced in 5 or so years time. By then there are likely to be better solutions than the diesel battery hybrid arrangement used by Rolls-Royce.
    It’s a pity that the Angel/Magtec solution has taken so long in its gestation, but by the end of this year we should know if it has a future.

    Comment by fammorris | February 14, 2022 | Reply

    • I think there might be a subtle undercurrent to the UK having an early MTU PowerPack.

      I did a large deal with Bohringer Ingelheim over a metered dose inhaler I helped to fund. I funded it because no-one else understood the physics. I didn’t but I lived in a house where Osborne Reynolds had spent some time. I went to Manchester University and met their Reynolds expert, who said that the great man would have explained why it worked. So against everybody’s advice I backed it.

      It’s now on the market as a device called Respimat.

      When we sold to the Germans, all the negotiations were in Bury St. Edmunds and we only went to Germany to pick up the substantial cheques.

      Askng the German lawyers, why they were happy to do that, they said that in Germany after working a long week, most shops are closed at weekends in Ingleheim, so you can’t work hard and get the things you need.

      In England the shop hours are different.

      So I do wonder if mtu’s engineers on this project are happier to work hard in Derby or London than on the shores of Lake Constance.

      Comment by AnonW | February 14, 2022 | Reply

      • You’re showing your age. I too remember boring Saturdays

        Comment by fammorris | February 14, 2022

  2. Regarding your comments about access to Porterbrook and other rolling stock fleet databases, it’s regrettable that the ORR don’t keep their database on rolling stock, which they started in 2015 up to date, the last version is at least 3 years old.
    By accident I came across a database collated by an enterprising individual. I’m sure it’s not absolutely accurate but I’m sure it is far better than the nothing that ORR have recently produced. Where’s the professional pride in the ORR and DfT.

    Comment by fammorris | February 23, 2022 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: