Rail

Ontario looking to test hydrogen-powered train tech

Posted on February 28, 2018

Ontario is taking the next steps in exploring the potential of hydrogen rail as an alternative to conventional electric trains, as Ontario transforms the GO network into a rapid-transit system. Photo: GO Transit
Ontario is taking the next steps in exploring the potential of hydrogen rail as an alternative to conventional electric trains, as Ontario transforms the GO network into a rapid-transit system. Photo: GO Transit

Ontario is taking the next steps in exploring the potential of hydrogen rail as an alternative to conventional electric trains, as Ontario transforms the GO network into a rapid-transit system that will provide faster and more frequent service for commuters and families.

A newly released Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study found that it would be feasible to build and operate electrified rail service on GO Transit and the UP Express using hydrogen-powered trains at a cost comparable to conventional electrification using overhead wires.

Ontario is engaging with train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens to produce concept designs that incorporate hydrogen fuel cells into bi-level trains similar to those currently used by GO Transit. In addition, the province is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for designs for a hydrogen fuel cell-powered locomotive, which could lead to a prototype rail vehicle that would be tested on the GO rail network.

Electrifying the GO rail network is part of the largest rail project in Canada as Ontario transforms GO from a commuter transit system to a regional rapid transit system. Weekly trips across the entire GO rail network will grow from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025, with more two-way, all-day and 15-minute service for commuters and families across the region.

Investing in sustainable, innovative public transit is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Hydrogen fuel cells can be used to power trains by replacing diesel engines in locomotives with clean fuel cell technology.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains can provide electrified rail services without the need for overhead catenary wires.
  • Unlike conventional electric trains, which draw power from the electrical grid while operating, hydrogen can be produced off-peak using renewable energy and stored for future use at a cost comparable to conventional electric rail systems.



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