The UK’s first hydrogen train, HydroFLEX, has received a £400,000 grant from the InnovateUK’s First of a Kind (FOAK) Programme.

The funding was awarded to the University of Birmingham.

This is expected to aid the university’s HydroFLEX development team and industry partners Porterbrook to develop the detailed production design and testing.

This grant brings the project closer to completion and eventual operation on the UK’s railways.

HydroFLEX is also said to be the first bi-mode electric hydrogen train in the world. The train will undergo mainline testing in the next few weeks.

The removal of diesel from the railways is necessary for the industry to showcase low-carbon operations as there is an increased environmental awareness and action.

Hydrogen, electrification and battery technology are said to be the three means for achieving decarbonised railway operations.

HydroFLEX was introduced at Rail Live in June 2019 and around 500 people travelled on the train.

Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education director Alex Burrows said: “I am really pleased that our HydroFLEX project has secured further Innovate UK funding to take its development closer to full commercialisation.

“To achieve decarbonisation of the railway, we need to develop hydrogen technology, alongside electrification and batteries, as one of the means to get diesel trains off the network.

“The University of Birmingham has world-class R&D capability in rail decarbonisation and I am hugely proud of our team as we continue this fantastic innovation partnership with industry to accelerate the development of clean technologies for the railway.”

The UK Department for Transport has partnered with Innovate UK and awarded grants worth £9.4m to 25 projects in the 2020 FOAK competition.