The UK’s Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) has chosen Arup to provide a ‘route map to enter service’ for hydrogen-powered trains.

The UK government recently released a proposal to replace all diesel-only trains by 2040. Hydrogen-powered trains, along with electrified rail and battery-powered trains, serve as an alternative to such trains.

Work on this project includes creating a high-level operational concept, the operational hazards associated, and regulatory obligations. Arup will work with manufacturers, regulators, rolling stock owners and train operators to formulate the specific design solutions while considering operation and safety risks.

The study is expected to determine the standardisation level for the rail system in the UK and clarify the route from a safety and compatibility standpoint.

Arup Technical Risk project director and senior consultant Albert Law said: “Safety remains critical to the rail industry’s aim to deliver low-carbon passenger journeys whilst improving customer performance and customer experience.

“It is vital that we treat the railway as a system, and when deploying new technology, we must interrogate the operational approaches, constraints and regulatory obligations. Managing technical risk early creates an efficient, safe and reliable environment for train operations, delivery and ultimately passengers and freight.”

The inclusion of hydrogen-powered vehicles in public transport is considered an important issue as they will decrease operating costs and encourage reliance on hydrogen as a fuel.

In June, the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, HydroFLEX, was tested on the mainline railway after a successful proof-of-concept.

In February, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in the UK stated that investment in hydrogen trains is vital to improving air quality but that it should be not considered an alternative to electrification schemes.

In January, Alstom and Eversholt Rail unveiled the design for a new hydrogen train for the UK.