Conceptual propulsion system design for a hydrogen-powered regional train

Andreas Hoffrichter, Stuart Hillmansen, Clive Roberts

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Many railway vehicles use diesel as their energy source but exhaust emissions and concerns about economical fuel supply demand alternatives. Railway electrification is not cost effective for some routes, particularly low-traffic density regional lines. The journey of a regional diesel–electric train is simulated over the British route Birmingham Moor Street to Stratford-upon-Avon and return to establish a benchmark for the conceptual design of a hydrogen-powered and hydrogen-hybrid vehicle. A fuel cell power plant, compressed hydrogen at 350 and 700 bar, and metal-hydride storage are evaluated. All equipment required for the propulsion can be accommodated within the space of the original diesel–electric train, while not compromising passenger-carrying capacity if 700 bar hydrogen tanks are employed. The hydrogen trains are designed to meet the benchmark journey time of 94 min and the operating range of a day without refuelling. An energy consumption reduction of 34% with the hydrogen-powered vehicle and a decrease of 55% with the hydrogen-hybrid train are achieved compared with the original diesel–electric. The well-to-wheel carbon dioxide emissions are lower for the conceptual trains: 55% decrease for the hydrogen-powered and 72% reduction for the hydrogen-hybrid assuming that the hydrogen is produced from natural gas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-66
JournalIET Electrical Systems in Transportation
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016


  • hydrogen storage
  • fuel cell vehicles
  • railways
  • hybrid electric vehicles
  • air pollution control
  • electric propulsion


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