The Canadian province of Ontario is taking the next steps in exploring the potential of hydrail 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. Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Transportation, has released the province’s Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study.
The study concludes 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, for which $21.3 billion has been allocated, is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The implementation of the Hydrail System of this scale and complexity is innovative and presents a different set of risks as well as benefits, as compared to conventional electrification
Hydrogen fuel cells can be used to power trains by replacing diesel engines in locomotives with clean fuel cell technology. 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.
“Our Hydrogen Feasibility Study and Hydrail Symposium have shown that it is worthwhile to take a more in-depth look at using hydrogen fuel cell powered rail vehicles to electrify the GO Transit network,” said Phil Verster, President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx. “The opportunity to further examine the scope, costs, benefits and risks of this technology is something my team and I are looking forward to in the coming months. We want to make sure we are making the best decision for Ontario communities.”
Source: Government of Ontario — Ministry of Transportation
Related article: Alstom’s Hydrogen Train Recognised in Europe 1 Mobility Awards