Improving rail links between cities in the North and Midlands should be the first priority of a new approach to end stop-start investments and help level up the UK as part of a wider economic strategy, according to a major new report by the National Infrastructure Commission.
The Commission was asked by the Prime Minister in February this year to undertake an assessment of proposed major rail schemes to help inform the Government’s Integrated Rail Plan.
The Commission’s report, published mid-December, highlights the strategic case for major rail investment across the North and Midlands, and the need for the Government’s forthcoming plan to set out a rolling programme of affordable investments.
It presents a detailed analysis of how different sets of schemes currently proposed within the North and Midlands – including Northern Powerhouse Rail between Liverpool and Hull, the Midlands Engine Rail programme, and HS2 phase 2b linking Birmingham to Manchester via Crewe, and to Leeds via the East Midlands – might be sequenced and prioritised.
Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, based at the University of St Andrews, have appointed Arcola Energy and a consortium of industry-leaders in hydrogen fuel cell integration, rail engineering and functional safety to deliver Scotland’s first hydrogen powered train. A key objective of the project is to create opportunities for the Scottish rail supply chain through skills development and industrialisation of the technology.
The project is supported by rail engineering and safety experts Arup and Abbott Risk Consulting to form an integrated delivery team, with AEGIS providing regulatory third-party verification.
“Hydrogen traction power offers a safe, reliable and zero-carbon alternative for Scotland’s rail network. The hydrogen train project is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders in hydrogen, rail engineering and safety to collaborate with Scottish technology providers to develop a deployment ready solution,” said Dr Ben Todd, CEO of Arcola Energy. “We are delighted to be working with Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, to support Scotland’s strategy to make passenger railways emission free by 2035.”
Arcola Energy will develop the technology platform for the train’s new powertrain from its planned new Scottish base. Arcola’s existing A-Drive platform will be extended to meet rail safety and compliance requirements, thereby enabling the consortium to significantly reduce development time and cost to deliver a complete hydrogen powered solution in just 10 months.
Project partner Arup will use the learnings from the project to develop a roadmap to roll out hydrogen trains to support the decarbonisation of Scotland’s network.