The Government of Ontario in Canada is set to test the implementation of hydrogen-powered train technology as an alternative to conventional electric trains following the release of the province’s Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study.

The study concluded that it would be feasible to build and operate electrified rail services on the GO Transit and UP Express networks using hydrogen-powered trains.

Hydrogen-powered trains are capable of providing electrified rail services without the need for overhead catenary wires.

"Ontario is currently engaging train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens to produce concept designs for the integration of hydrogen fuel cells on-board bi-level trains."

Ontario is currently engaging train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens to produce concept designs for the integration of hydrogen fuel cells on-board bi-level trains similar to those used by GO Transit.

The fuel cells can be used to power trains, allowing the diesel engines to be replaced with alternatives featuring clean technology.

In addition, Ontario is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for the design of a hydrogen fuel cell-powered locomotive, which would lead the development of a prototype vehicle for testing along the GO rail network.

Ontario Minister of Transportation Kathryn McGarry said: “The potential benefit of hydrogen fuel cells compared to overhead wires makes exploring hydrogen rail technology worthwhile.

“Our government is taking the next step in assessing how this important technology could work for our own transit system.”

The GO rail network electrification initiative forms part of a larger rail project that aims to transform GO from a commuter transit system to a regional rapid transit system.

Weekly trips across the entire GO rail network are currently projected to increase from 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025.