A retired ScotRail Class 314 electric set was transported by road from its depot in Glasgow to Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway where it will be converted to a hydrogen-powered model – a cleaner, greener alternative to diesel for non-electrified routes.
The work is part of a Scottish Enterprise project designed to bring skills for the future of the rail industry into the Scottish supply chain and create opportunities for businesses.
The initiative, run with Transport Scotland and the University of St Andrews’ Hydrogen Accelerator, will be carried out by an industry consortium led by hydrogen technology specialists Arcola Energy.
Its target is to showcase the train to a global audience attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.
As well as the benefits for Scottish business, the rail industry and the environment, the project will also provide a huge boost to the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, which relies on tourism and has suffered due to coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.
The Hydrogen Train Project will attract renewed interest in the visitor attraction, operated by the Scottish Railway Preservation Society (SRPS), and provide a direct cash injection via rental of facilities.
Steve Humphreys, SRPS chairman, added: “We are delighted to be able to work on this project and the arrival of the Class 314 units on our site at a time when we have had a very difficult year is a welcome and positive step towards our future.
“We have been at the forefront of Scottish railway preservation for 60 years and being part of the future of the railway industry in Scotland makes a fitting project for our Diamond Jubilee in 2021.”
Michael Matheson, Scottish Transport Secretary, said: “This project has the potential to be a game changer for the future of Scotland’s rail rolling stock.
“Our Rail Decarbonisation Action Plan sets out to make our passenger railways emissions-free by 2035, but to maximise our climate change ambitions, there is also a requirement to look at what we do with retired stock.
“If we can bring those back into use in a carbon neutral way, there are huge climate gains to be made.”