The Anonymous Widower

A Hydrogen-Electric Class 99 Locomotive

In GB Railfreight Plans Order For Future-Proofed Bi-Mode Locomotives, I introduced the Class 99 locomotive, for which the first order was announced by Stadler and GB Railfreight yesterday.

This was the start of that post, which I wrote in early March 2022.

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is the introductory paragraph.

GB Railfreight is planning to order a fleet of main line electro-diesel locomotives with a modular design which would facilitate future replacement of the diesel engine with a battery or hydrogen fuel cell module.

In this post, I will look at the design of a Class 99 locomotive running on hydrogen.

These are my thoughts.

Using Hydrogen Fuel Cells

The Railway Gazette article suggests that hydrogen fuel-cells will be used to create a hydrogen-electric Class 99 locomotive.

A typical hydrogen fuel-cell transmission will have the following elements, which will replace the diesel-electric generator.

  • A hydrogen fuel tank
  • A appropriately-sized hydrogen fuel-cell which generates electricity from hydrogen.
  • A battery to store electricity.
  • Regenerative braking will also be used to charge the battery.
  • The locomotive will have an electric transmission.

The various components will be fitted into the space, that was occupied by the diesel engine.

This Alstom video promotes the Alstom Coradia iLint and explains how it works.

Most hydrogen fuel-cell trains and trucks , work as the train does in this video.

Using A Reciprocating Engine Running On Hydrogen

This press release from Caterpillar is entitled Caterpillar to Expand Hydrogen-Powered Solutions to Customers.

It describes how Caterpillar will develop versions of their reciprocating engines, that will run on 100 % hydrogen.

This would be an alternative way of developing a zero-carbon Class 99 locomotive.

Note that Cummins, JCB and Rolls-Royce mtu have also converted diesel engines to run on hydrogen.

This method of conversion has advantages.

April 30, 2022 - Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. A iLint has 440kwh of battery capacity a freight loco will need a lot more than that along with supporting fuel cell capacity and hydrogen tank storage. Can’t see the space for a diesel engine and generator will provide sufficient space for the kit to provide anything more than limited capability for last (few) mile(s) operation.

    As i said yesterday this shouldn’t be a reason for not equipping a couple of locos with alternative kit for trial purposes as we need to start somewhere to get real life results.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | April 30, 2022 | Reply

    • We certainly need to experiment and if you look at freight routes, some like the stone trains between the Mendips and the Peak District and London will need a heavy haul locomotive for many years yet.

      On the other hand, multimodal trains between Felixstowe and Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool or Manchester could probably be handled by battery-electric locomotives.

      Comment by AnonW | May 1, 2022 | Reply

  2. The problem is the volume required for the hydrogen tanks to give a reasonable range. The easiest solution would be a tender.

    Comment by Ben | May 1, 2022 | Reply

    • I calculated the amount of liquid hydrogen needed to have as much energy as the diesel in a Class 68.

      The Mathematics Of A Hydrogen-Powered Freight Locomotive

      This could be contained in a cylindrical tank with a diameter of 2 metres and a length of 6 metres.

      I doubt there would be any need for a tender.

      Comment by AnonW | May 1, 2022 | Reply

      • What sort of psi would it have to be pressurised to to hold that volume of gas though? Also not sure there will be six metres spare space in the body so would probably need to be multiple smaller tanks to fit in the bodyshell also gives some redundancy options.

        Comment by Nicholas Lewis | May 1, 2022

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