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Ballard receives order from Porterbrook for fuel cell module to power UK HydroFLEX train

Ballard’s fuel cell will go towards a UK initiative to remove diesel-only trains by 2040

Ballard Power Systems has received a purchase order from Porterbrook Leasing Company, a leading participant in the rail leasing market, for an FCveloCity-HD fuel cell module and related support to power a HydroFLEX train in the UK.

Earlier this year, UK Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP challenged the rail industry to develop decarbonisation plans, with the objective of removing diesel-only trains from the network by 2040.

HydroFLEX is an innovative response to this challenge from Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham’s Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), bringing together industry and academia in partnership to deliver the UK’s first-in-class clean energy passenger train.

Porterbrook will provide a Class 319 electric train for conversion by BCRRE’s technical and research experts into a HydroFLEX hydrogen-powered train. The train will utilise Ballard’s power module and Ballard will also provide system controls development, mechanical integration of sub-systems and other components.

The HydroFLEX will be the UK’s first fully sized hydrogen demonstrator train. It will showcase how hydrogen can be used to power a train that retains the ability to operate across existing electric routes, on either third rail or 25-kV overhead power. Testing and demonstration runs are planned for the summer of 2019 at RailLive, which will take place at Long Marston in Warwickshire.

Porterbrook chief commercial officer Stephen McGurk said: “I am delighted that BCRRE has chosen to work with Porterbrook on this exciting fuel cell project. We have also engaged Ballard, a leading fuel cell company, to supply a fuel cell module and support services. The HydroFLEX will not only showcase rail innovation, it will also demonstrate how the private sector railway can effectively partner with educational bodies to jointly deliver real benefits to passengers, train operators and the communities our railways serve.”

President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems Europe A/S Jesper Themsen added: “We are pleased to work with Porterbrook and BCRRE on the HydroFLEX rail program. As evidenced by this activity in the UK, along with our work on fuel cell rail programmes in Germany and China, momentum is rapidly building behind the development and deployment of Heavy Duty Motive fuel cell solutions for both inter-city trains as well as intra-city trams. Ballard is now actively working with a number of the world’s most important players in the rolling stock sector, including Porterbrook, to meet this growing requirement.”

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