As the project to produce a train ready to run on hydrogen power is at the halfway stage, Transport Minister, Graeme Day visited the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway where it is being worked on ahead of the COP26 climate conference.

Arcola Energy are in charge of converting a former ScotRail Class 314 electric train to hydrogen fuel cell technology to show how hydrogen power can play a role in decarbonising Scottish railways by 2035. Transport Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and University of St Andrews are backing the project.

The key aim is to develop skills and create an industrial use of the technology with opportunities for the Scottish rail supply chain.

Transport Minister Graeme Dey said: “I have been impressed by the enthusiasm and professionalism of all involved in this exciting project. The team is clearly demonstrating that hydrogen provides another available option to tackle the challenge of removing diesel as a source of power on our rail network.

“Our Decarbonisation Action Plan and its associated infrastructure investment, including hydrogen powered-trains, represents a significant undertaking. This requires careful, in-depth planning and design to ensure that we deliver the right projects at the right time which – when complete – will bring many benefits to local communities, businesses and rail users across Scotland. This project is tangible evidence of our commitment to make good on that plan.”

Angel Trains is an asset manager specialising in rolling stock, and the business is supporting the project with investment of more than £500,000. This will fund a flexible refuelled installation delivering green hydrogen.

Dr Ben Todd, CEO, Arcola Energy said: “This project is an excellent example of Government, academia and industry working together to take an eco-system view of the benefits of carbon neutral technology.

“We are delivering a hydrogen-powered train in a live rail environment – including a production-ready engineering design, a green hydrogen infrastructure while developing supply chain capability and new green jobs.”

There are eight people employed at the rail engineering facility in Bo’ness.

The aim is to run the Scottish Hydrogen Train at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway during COP26. On completion of the project, the train will be available for local suppliers and academics to test and develop hydrogen technology.