Eversholt Rail and Alstom to invest extra £1m in developing hydrogen trains

Alstom will build Breeze hydrogen-powered trains at its Widnes facility.

Eversholt Rail and Alstom will invest a further £1 million in British hydrogen trains, creating an entirely new category of train, the 600 series.

This major investment will take the Breeze hydrogen train plan to the next level, meaning that the Breeze will be ready for early deployment in the UK to meet the government’s need to decarbonise the rail industry. This investment from Alstom and Eversholt Rail in the UK hydrogen train will underpin other initiatives in the hydrogen sector and will support any subsequent national hydrogen strategy.

Alstom’s Breeze is an Eversholt Rail Class 321 train converted to run on hydrogen power.

Breeze trains will be built at Alstom’s Widnes Transport Technology Centre – Alstom will rebuild Eversholt Rail’s Class 321 electric trains to use hydrogen power.  

Widnes will also become Alstom’s worldwide centre of excellence for hydrogen conversion when this project is in series production, creating over 200 high-quality engineering jobs in the North West, crucial for the Prime Minister’s levelling-up agenda.

When powered by green hydrogen, these trains offer true zero-emission mobility, not just zero emission at point of use. The only emission from a hydrogen train is water; it produces no harmful particulate or gaseous emissions.

Hydrogen trains are ideally suited to regional rail services on routes that are not currently electrified. Alstom has already proven that hydrogen trains are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution with the success of the Coradia iLint in Germany. This new investment will ensure that Breeze trains are ready for swift deployment in the UK wherever electrification with overhead wires might be impractical or visually intrusive.

The pioneering of a hydrogen train fleet is a notable step in the path towards decarbonising the UK railway. As Breeze will be the first UK train fleet to use the Class 6xx category, it will bear the classification ‘600’. Both Eversholt Rail and Alstom are delighted with this recognition.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom.

Nick Crossfield, Alstom’s managing director for UK & Ireland, said: “It’s time to jump-start the UK hydrogen revolution. With the government looking to invest in green technologies, Alstom and Eversholt Rail have deepened our already extensive commitment to this job-creating technology with a further million-pound investment.

“This bold move to back the Government’s ambitions on hydrogen means we are the only game in town if you want a shovel-ready British hydrogen train. The Breeze is good to go, wherever the Government commits to upgrading Britain’s railway with hydrogen trains.”

Mary Kenny, Eversholt Rail.

Mary Kenny, CEO of Eversholt Rail, added: “Eversholt Rail has a proud record of innovation in key rolling stock technologies and this further investment in the Breeze programme demonstrates our commitment to providing timely, cost-effective solutions to the identified need for hydrogen trains to support the decarbonisation of the UK railway.”

The Breeze hydrogen trains could be replacements for the UK’s regional diesels that operate across the country, with the first trains entering into service in 2024.

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