Hydrogen Trains ‘Breeze’ into the UK but not until 2022

Written on the 25th April, 2019

Breeze is the name given to Alstom and Eversholt Rail hydrogen train and it is expected that the first trains will be operational in 2022. It will be the result of the conversion to hydrogen of the Electric 321 Class Train which was built in the 1980s.  The initial engineering study and train design concept was completed at the beginning of this year.  The result is a train that fits into the standard UK loading gauge.  It will also create more room for passengers than the trains they are intended to replace.   UK trains have a high floor design and rarely carry equipment in the roof other than HVAC and pantographs.  This was taken into account with the design.

Andrew Jones MP, the UK Rail Minister has said that “Hydrogen train technology is an exciting innovation which has the potential to transform our railway, making journeys cleaner and greener by cutting CO2 emissions even further.   We are working with industry to establish how hydrogen trains can play an important part in the future, delivering better services on rural and inter-urban routes.”  The UK Government has also made a commitment to end the operation of diesel only trains by 2040. This is an ambitious target considering that 29% of UK’s rail fleet is currently powered by diesel and only 40% of the Network is electrified. Around 2,500 UK regional rail vehicles are diesel powered with no emission controls whatsoever

There is till much to do before the trains come into service. Mike Muldoon from Alstom listed the activities at a Conference in Birmingham in March this year.:

  • Completion of business cases with operators to include full system provision – trains, fuelling, operation and technical support
  • Approval to proceed, including appointment of hydrogen supplier
  • Launch system safety case approval process with the operator
  • Detailed design of the train conversion including the hydrogen propulsion system integration
  • Parallel design of the hydrogen refuelling facility(ies)
  • First unit build with train level testing should commence late 2021
  • First fleet build early 2022
  • First fleet in passenger service late 2022.

Hydrogen trains can play a key role in the development of a low carbon rail system in the UK and the development of the ‘Breeze’ train gives us an innovative example in the conversion of regional trains to hydrogen.




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