British rolling stock company Porterbrook has partnered with Rolls-Royce to support the decarbonisation of the railway sector.

The two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to explore the use of synthetic and net zero fuels for rail transport. The collaboration will include assessing the potentiality of hydrogen as a clean fuel.

Additionally, Porterbrook and Rolls-Royce will also evaluate the potentiality of advanced hybridisation. Earlier, the two companies worked together to introduce hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service.

Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant said: “We have been at the forefront of developing alternative traction systems for rolling stock over recent years, through our innovations and long-term asset management approach.

“Our partnership with Rolls-Royce will mean that we continue to lead the UK’s rail sector in sustainable solutions, by leveraging expertise across industries on the pathway to net zero.”

Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East said: “We have extensive experience of rail technology and are able to draw upon expertise from across our business in new net zero and zero emissions technologies for safety critical applications.

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“We are committed to helping our customers make the transition to net zero by enabling them to use our current and future products in a way that is compatible with emissions reduction, and this relationship with Porterbrook will help us further understand the options for decarbonising rail transport.”

According to UK Department for Transport 2019 figures, the railway system contributes nearly 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the country.

The UK aims to withdraw all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040 and reach a net zero by 2050.

Porterbrook acquires trains and then leases them to rail operating companies. Currently, the company has around 4,000 vehicles on lease or on order.

Last year, Porterbrook acquired the Long Marston Rail Innovation Centre to boost its railway assets portfolio.