Britain’s railways are to enter a new steam age with up to 100 ageing diesel trains poised to be converted to run on eco-friendly hydrogen. They could be on the network within three years and will be almost silent, with the same range and speed as diesel trains. Their only emissions will be water, with some released as small puffs of steam above the train. The conversion programme – drawn up by Alstom, the French train maker – would make Britain a world leader in hydrogen train technology. Jo Johnson, the rail minister, called in February for all Britain’s 3,900 diesel trains to be scrapped by 2040. There is growing concern about the impact of diesel emissions at railway stations. The Rail Safety and Standards Board is studying concentrations of toxic nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulates at London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley stations. The research includes taking measurements from staff exposed to the worst pollution. Researchers from Birmingham University have found “very high” NO2 and particulate levels at Birmingham New Street. Alstom revealed this weekend that it planned to convert the class 321 diesel trains, which date to 1988 and are used on the Greater Anglia network between London Liverpool Street and Ipswich. The units will be switched to other lines once converted to hydrogen power. Hydrogen tanks installed on the roof will supply fuel cells, which will generate electrical power by combining the hydrogen with oxygen. Lithium-ion batteries will store the electricity and supply the traction units that power the train.
Times 13th May 2018 read more »