Alstom and rolling stock operating company Eversholt Rail have agreed to fast-track a hydrogen train development programme in the UK with an additional £1m investment.

The investment is expected to facilitate the development of their Breeze hydrogen train concept as the companies aim to deploy the first hydrogen multiple units (HMU) for service by 2024.

The Breeze concept involved equipping Eversholt Rail’s Class 321 electric trains with fuel cells, a move that will enable the vehicles to run on hydrogen power.

Once complete, the resulting units will be designated Class 600, a series used to denote vehicles using hydrogen or other alternative forms of traction.

Alstom UK and Ireland managing director Nick Crossfield said: “With the government looking to invest in green technologies, Alstom and Eversholt Rail have deepened our already extensive commitment to this job-creating technology with a further £1m investment.

“This bold move to back the government’s ambitions on hydrogen means we are the only game in town if you want a shovel-ready British hydrogen train. The Breeze is good to go, wherever the government commits to upgrading Britain’s railway with hydrogen trains.”

The Breeze trains will be built at Alstom’s Widnes Transport Technology Centre and the production works are expected to create more than 200 jobs.

The hydrogen-powered trains will release only water as waste with no harmful emissions.

According to Alstom, such HMUs are ideal for routes that are not currently electrified. The French rolling stock manufacturer has already deployed such hydrogen trains called Coradia iLint in Germany for passenger services.

Alstom recently conducted tests of the Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell train in the Netherlands.