20 October 2021
A successful collaboration between Porterbrook and the BCRRE has resulted in a revolutionary, green technology project that is central to decarbonising the railway by 2050. The UK’s first hydrogen powered train, dubbed as ‘HydroFLEX’, will be showcased at COP26 in November this year to demonstrate some of the best of British low-carbon train technology.
HydroFLEX is the world’s first train retrofitted to operate under hydrogen power and the first hydrogen powered train on Britain’s railway. Uniquely, it is capable of drawing power from overhead wires and where these don’t exist, operating in self powered mode using hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. The train was originally developed as a response to the UK government’s challenge to remove diesel-only trains from the national network by 2040.
After two years of development and successful testing, HydroFLEX will make its way to COP26 in Glasgow. The train has been converted to include an ‘on-board boardroom’, providing high-profile delegates the opportunity to use the train to support the globally significant discussions that will take place.
In 2019, KeTech was awarded a position on Porterbrook’s Innovation Hub; a static train that doubled up as a unique platform for the top industry innovators to display pioneering ideas that optimize efficiency and enhance passenger experience. KeTech was selected to showcase its unique real-time Passenger Information Systems (PIS) and expertise in combining all available data on and around the train/station environment; delivering relevant, uniform information to passengers in real-time.
KeTech’s PIS was a success at the innovation hub, the system is one of a kind due to the multiplicity of data it processes and presents to passengers. It updates every second to ensure the information is current and provides delay reasons, onward journey information, journey progress and much more.
Porterbrook selected KeTech as a partner for the HydroFLEX project due to the high level of intelligence its PIS provides. KeTech’s Sales Director Paul Warren said, “The team were thrilled when we were chosen to be part of such a ground-breaking project, although it was hard to keep it under wraps in the early days of the project! KeTech provide cutting-edge passenger information, creating a seamless journey which ultimately encourages more people to make the switch from road to rail which is so important, now more than ever.”
There will be a total of 16 KeTech Passenger Information Screens on HydroFLEX. Ordinarily, the system’s core function is to present a multitude of real-time information relevant to the service running. During COP26 the train will run with no stops, limiting the information able to be displayed. In this instance, Porterbrook will use the opportunity to display a series of pages highlighting the details of the conference and the train.
Porterbrook’s Innovation and Project Director, Helen Simpson said, “Porterbrook selected the KeTech PIS system for its HydroFLEX programme due to the completeness of the package on offer and our continued approach to supporting the local SME supply chain. The system itself provides the ideal mix of innovation, flexibility and proven pedigree for what is required for our unit.”
KeTech’s CEO, Denise Lawrenson said, “KeTech is honoured to have been selected as a partner for Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX project. As an SME with offices based in Preston and Nottingham, we are proud to be suppliers on HydroFLEX, a UK first, and to be supporting a crucial international conference. The team at KeTech is constantly trying to meet passenger expectations and raise the standard, we are passionate about innovation and it has been an absolute pleasure to work with like-minded suppliers throughout the HydroFLEX project.”