The Anonymous Widower

Key Mainline Testing Undertaken In Bi Modal Hydrogen Train Project

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Rail Technology Magazine.

This is a key paragraph.

In the test, lithium-titanate batteries and the hydrogen fuel cells have been retro-fitted to a CAF Civia Class 463 commuter electric unit train. This then has the ability to create a hybrid powertrain which can run on electrified lines alongside standard lines.

This paragraph describes some of the testing.

The new power system has been integrated into the existing vehicle’s traction system and the current tests on the mainline follow closed track testing and static testing at CAF’s plant in Zaragoza. The mainline testing has taken place across lines in Zaragoza, Madrid and Galicia but the crucial test run for the new unit was on the Zaragoza-Canfranc line where it ran in both electric mode on the electrified line before switching to hybrid mode, combining the fuel from hydrogen fuel cells and batteries where needed.

It sounds like this is a better specified hydrogen-powered train than Alstom’s iLint.

June 7, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Could Hydrogen Trains Be Used As Pathfinders?

I must admit, I have a soft-spot for hydrogen transport, but I suppose most people look back on their first real job  with a certain affection.

The only new hydrogen train under development for the UK Is the Alstom Hydrogen Aventra, which was announced in this press release in November 2021 and is entitled Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet.

Little is known about these trains, except what is in the original press release.

  • Ten trains have been ordered.
  • Each will be three-cars.
  • Contracts will be signed in 2022, which didn’t happen.

Nothing is said about the following important features.

  1. What will be the operating speed?
  2. What will be the range on a fill of hydrogen?
  3. Will the trains have a pantograph, so they can be run on electrified lines with 25 KVAC overhead electrification?

All are important to train operating companies, who along with the Department for Transport need to be able to plan.

What Do I Mean By A Pathfinder?

I will look at the service between Reading and Basingstoke.

  • It is 15.4 miles long.
  • There are four stops, which will soon be five, with the addition of Reading Green Park.
  • The line is partly-electrified.
  • The service is only hourly and probably needed to be two trains per hour (tph).
  • It is currently run by diesel trains.

In a decarbonised railway, there are only two options for running this line.

  • Use hydrogen trains.
  • Electrify and use electric trains.


  1. The cost of the two options will be different.
  2. If the hydrogen and electric trains are both quality trains, the passenger experience will be similar.
  3. To run two tph, track and signalling modifications will be needed.
  4. These modifications would also allow a two tph diesel service.
  5. There is no way to accurately determine, how many passengers would use a two tph hydrogen and electric service.

So suppose the following plan were to be enacted.

  • Upgrade the track and signalling to allow a two tph service.
  • Run the two tph service with diesel trains.
  • Install hydrogen infrastructure for the route. In this case, it would probably be at the nearby Reading depot.
  • Run the two tph service with hydrogen trains.

Hopefully on the completion of some months of successful running of the hydrogen trains, the number of passengers to be expected will have been predicted to a better accuracy than UK railways normally manage.

Then the decision between hydrogen and electric trains can be taken.

If hydrogen trains are the decision, the trains could stay in service, but if electrification is the solution, then once the electric service is operating, the hydrogen trains would move on to the next line to be decarbonised.

Why The Alstom Hydrogen Aventra’s Need To Be Able To Use Electrification

If you look at routes, where hydrogen trains could be used as Pathfinders, they could include, some partially-electrified routes.

  • Reading and Bedwyn
  • Reading and Oxford
  • Reading and Gatwick
  • London Bridge and Uckfield
  • Ashford and Eastbourne
  • Preston and Blackpool South
  • Wisbech and Cambridge
  • Dereham and Norwich
  • Basingstoke and Exeter
  • Romsey and Salisbury
  • York and Scarborough

This list includes both routes with both types of electrification; 25 KVAC overhead and 750 VDC third rail.

But if the electrification is there and not used, the exercise will be labelled as greenwashing, by some.





May 22, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , | 3 Comments

Chiltern Electrification Alternatives Studied

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

These are the first two paragraphs.

Chiltern Railways is working to present the Department for Transport with options for a fleet renewal programme, with London Marylebone being the only non-electrified London terminal and pressure for the withdrawal of diesel trains continuing to mount, particularly from local residents.

Industry insiders report that this could see at least the 39 two and three-car Class 165 diesel multiple-units replaced.


  1. The Class 165 trains were built in 1990-1992 and refurbished around the turn of the century.
  2. Chiltern Railways have 28 two-car and 11 three-car Class 165 trains.
  3. Chiltern Railways also have ten similar two-car,  nine three-car and nine four-car Class 168 trains.
  4. In addition, Great Western Railway has 20 two-car and 16 three-car Class 165 trains, and 23 Class 166 trains.
  5. The Class 165 and Class 166 trains are 90 mph units, whereas the Class 168 trains are 100 mph units.

As Chiltern’s study would appear to rule out electrification, could all of these trains be replaced with an appropriate number of a new class of 100 mph  zero-carbon independently-powered multiple units?

In Alstom And Eversholt Rail Sign An Agreement For The UK’s First Ever Brand-New Hydrogen Train Fleet, I talked about a proposed hydrogen train fleet.

These trains are described as three-car in Alstom’s press release.

  • Most Aventras are 100 mph trains.
  • They could easily be lengthened to four cars by the addition of an extra car.
  • It may even be possible, that these trains could be fitted with a pantograph for working on electrified lines.

The only problem, I can envisage, is that a two-car version might not have enough space for the hydrogen and electrical gubbins.

Chiltern’s Locomotive-Hauled Mark III Stock

Greater Anglia have replaced locomotive-hauled Mark III stock with multiple units and it appears to have been successful.

Could Chiltern’s locomotive-hauled Mark III stock be replaced by six-car hydrogen-powered Aventras, with a long-distance interior?

Other Routes

Alstom and Eversholt Rail announced their agreement in November 2021.

Since then, I have written these posts, where the proposed Alstom Hydrogen Aventra could have an application.


  1. A two-car version would surely increase the number of applications.
  2. A 110 mph capability would allow the trains to mix it with high speed trains on fast lines.
  3. Bombardier proposed a 125 mph bi-mode Aventra. Could this be achieved with hydrogen power?

I feel the eight applications, I listed, could be the start of something a lot bigger.


Alstom and Eversholt Rail Group appear to have done their research.









May 17, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Could The Bombardier Voyagers Be Converted To Hydrogen Power?

Avanti West Coast, CrossCountry and East Midlands Trains all run versions of Bombardier Voyager trains.

  • There are 103 sets in service.
  • Lengths are four, five and seven cars.
  • They are 125 mph trains.
  • They are powered by one Cummins QSK19 diesel engine in each car.

Given Cummins’s enthusiasm for hydrogen could these diesel engines be converted to hydrogen power, so the trains could run long distance routes on zero-carbon power?

If there is no need for them in the UK, there are probably lots of places in the world that would like them!

April 8, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Adding Buxton And Manchester Piccadilly To The Bee Network

This article on the Railway Gazette has a list of the lines, that will be transferred between Northern Rail and the Bee Network.

Included in the list is this line.

Buxton And Manchester Piccadilly

I think this route would be the following.

  • The Southern terminus would be Buxton.
  • The Northern terminus would be Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Intermediate stations would be Dove Holes, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Whaley Bridge, Furness Vale, New Mills Newtown, Disley, Middlewood, Hazel Grove, Woodsmoor, Davenport, Stockport, Heaton Chapel and Levenshulme.
  • he route is fully electrified with 25 KVAC overhead between Hazel Grove and Manchester Piccadilly.
  • Most of the route has a range of operating speeds. up to 90 mph.
  • The distance is 19 miles
  • Trains take 62 minutes
  • Trains are often two-car Class 150 trains working as a pair.
  • The Buxton Line is one of the stiffest routes on the UK rail network.

The route is the same as the current Northern Trains service.

This is my thought.


I think there are three choices.

  • Electrify the line fully and use 100 mph electric trains like Class 331 trains.
  • Use 100 mph battery-electric trains, with large enough batteries to climb to Buxton.
  • Use 100 mph hydrogen-electric trains, with enough power on hydrogen to climb to Buxton.


  1. The current diesel trains could be used until a zero-carbon solution is delivered.
  2. 100 mph trains would be needed because of the 90 mph section around Stockport.
  3. The stiffness of the line makes the choice difficult.
  4. Regenerative braking would allow trains to coast down the hill.
  5. Battery-electric trains would not need charging at Buxton.

I’m sure that the deal that will be setting up the Bee Network, would have a plan for the Buxton Line.

March 31, 2023 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Riding On Hydrogen-Powered Buses And Trains

These posts describe my trips on hydrogen-powered buses


  1. The first bus starts from Birmingham City Centre.
  2. The second bus runs between Paddington station and John Lewis in Oxford Street in London.

This post describes my first ride in a hydrogen-powered train.

My First Ride In An Alstom Coradia iLint

This was through the German countryside between Hamburg and Cuxhaven.

February 12, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hydrogen Train To Be Demonstrated In Québec

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

These two paragraphs outline the project.

An Alstom Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell multiple-unit is to operate demonstration passenger services on the Chemin de fer de Charlevoix from June 17 to September 30.

The return service along the St Lawrence River between Parc de la Chute-Montmorency on the outskirts of Québec City and Baie-St-Paul is being organised by the province, short line operator Chemin de fer Charlevoix, tourist train operator Train de Charlevoix, hydrogen production technology company HTEC and Harnois Énergies, which will produce the green hydrogen at its Québec City site.

The Train de Charlevoix runs along the St. Lawrence River and is described on the web site as a unique experience.

I have felt for some time, that one of the uses of zero-carbon trains is as tourist trains, on quiet lines, where noise is probably not welcome.

It might even change the future of some lightly-used lines.


February 3, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles And Trains In Tunnels

In writing about the Silvertown Tunnel, I started to wonder, if hydrogen vehicles will be allowed in the tunnel.



  • I don’t think diesel-powered trains are allowed in the Channel Tunnel and the tunnels of the link to London.
  • Some tunnels don’t seem to allow hydrogen-powered vehicles.
  • In a few years, hydrogen-powered buses, cars, locomotives, trains, trucks and vans will be more common, than they are today.

But help is at hand, with a co-operation between UK and EU agencies called HyTunnel-CS.

It is over fifty years now, since I worked as an instrument engineer in an ICI hydrogen factory at Runcorn. Truckloads of hydrogen were filled and despatched all over the UK. I may be wrong, but in all those intervening years, I can’t remember a hydrogen emergency on the UK’s roads.

I am confident, that we will achieve a safety regime, that allows hydrogen-powered vehicles and trains to be certified to pass through tunnels.

January 8, 2023 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Research And Development Agreement Signed For Hydrogen Combustion Trains In US

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on H2-View.

This is the opening paragraph.

Hydrogen combustion engine-powered trains are set to be at the centre of a collaborative research and development agreement between Argonne and Oak Ridge National Laboratories and Wabtec in a bid to decarbonise US rail.

The US is certainly calling up the heavy brigade in Argonne National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratories and Wabtec.

This appears to be the main objective.

It is hoped the team will be able to design train engines that will deliver the same power, range, and cost-effectiveness as current diesel technology.

The article states that there are 25,000 diesel locomotives in the United States, but because of exports to large parts of the world, including the UK, this research could clean up a lot more than just the United States.

The omens are good, in that both Cummins and Rolls-Royce mtu, who are two of the world’s big diesel engine manufacturers have successfully launched hydrogen combustion engines.



November 12, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ricardo Partners On Innovative Hydrogen-Electric Train Trial

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

This is the introductory paragraph.

Ricardo, in partnership with Scottish Power, Network Rail Scotland and the University of Leeds, have received next phase energy sector funding to develop their innovative Holistic Hydrogen Approach to Heavy Duty Transport (H2H) project, which aims to be a catalyst that will help the UK remove all diesel trains from the network by 2040.

Of all British companies, one of those with most to lose from world-wide decarbonisation and the phase out of petrol and diesel is Ricardo.

Ricardo plc is an unusual company, which started life as Engine Patents Ltd in 1915.

For over a hundred years, they have been the go-to company, if you have a tricky design problem, with your diesel or petrol engines or the transmission.

Wikipedia has a list of technologies that shaped the company’s first 100 years.

I used to know the grandson of the company’s founder; Sir Harry Ricardo and he told me, that virtually every modern diesel or petrol engine in the world, has been designed with help from one or more of the company’s patents.

So decarbonisation has meant that Ricardo has diversified and their innovative Holistic Hydrogen Approach to Heavy Duty Transport (H2H) project has been one of the results.

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Hydrogen, Transport/Travel | , , , , , | 2 Comments