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Scottish Hydrogen Train Project on Track to Meet Climate Targets

The University of St Andrews is spearheading a hydrogen train project designed to work towards achieving the Net Zero Carbon targets outlined by the Scottish government.

The University has formed a partnership with Transport Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, Ballard Motive Solutions, Abbott risk consulting, ARUP, Aegis. and Angel Trains in order to tackle the ambitious project, which consists of the conversion and re-use of a three car Class 314 train to a class-614 hydrogen-powered train.

The project accomplished a successful test last month in Bo’ness, where green hydrogen was produced from an on-site electrolyser and connected to a temporary refueller in order to power the train.

University’s Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson, said of the project, “The University of St Andrews is leading the way in the transition to green energy. The hydrogen train project is a demonstration of our commitment to our own ambitious Net Zero targets and is a real demonstration of the collaborative approach and partnership working for societal benefit.”

Gerry Agnew, Director of Hydrogen Accelerator and Senior Research Fellow at the University, said: “This Hydrogen Accelerator project is providing invaluable intellectual collateral that will inform future phases for the decarbonisation of the rail network and play a critical role in helping Scotland achieve its Net Zero targets.

“Testing and demonstrating the train was the next step in showing that the clean energy transition is a reality. The project is on target to deliver the critical understanding and knowledge to make hydrogen-powered rail a reality in the not-too-distant future.”

The Chair of the Hydrogen Accelerator, Professor John Irvine from the School of Chemistry at St Andrews said, “Hydrogen has a very important role in seeking to address climate change. It is essential to show that it can be implemented in real applications at scale. The achievements of our team in delivering a smoothly operating train is an excellent exemplar of hydrogen technology and its capabilities, which is also critically informing our progress to removing fossil fuelled trains from our railways.”

As the project has progressed, the team has been able to identify and work through some of the safety and operational challenges associated with converting existing rolling stock to hydrogen-powered trains. However, the successful test has verified that the project is on course to be critically significant in Scotland’s capacity to tackle the climate crisis.

The hydrogen train project serves as a rare example of collaboration between government, academia, and industry in the journey to meet the Net Zero carbon targets. The year 3035 stands as an important year not only for Scotland, but for the University, as St. Andrews aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2035.

Image: University of St Andrews

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