Development and design of a narrow-gauge hydrogen-hybrid locomotive

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


External organisations

  • University of Birmingham


Hydrogen used as an energy carrier is a promising alternative to diesel for autonomous railway motive power, but, globally, few prototypes exist. In 2012, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers held the inaugural Railway Challenge, in which the participating teams had to develop, design and construct a locomotive to run on 10.25 inch (260.35 mm) gauge track while meeting certain set design criteria as well as competing in operational challenges. The University of Birmingham Railway Challenge Team's locomotive design is described in this paper. The vehicle is the UK's first hydrogen-powered locomotive and is called Hydrogen Pioneer. The drive-system consists of a hydrogen tank, a 1.1 kW proton-exchange-membrane fuel cell stack, a 4.3 kWh battery pack and two 2.2 kW permanent-magnet traction motors. The development of the locomotive, from the original concept to the final design, and the design validation are all presented in this paper. The locomotive completed successfully all challenges through which the proof of the concept of a hydrogen-hybrid locomotive was established.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-192
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part F: Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number1
Early online date14 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • hydrail, hydrogen hybrid, hydrogen-powered locomotive, motive power, railway technology, Railway traction

ASJC Scopus subject areas