Alstom’s hydrogen train Coradia iLint runs at 80 km/h
Alstom’s new Coradia iLint, the world’s first low floor passenger train powered by hydrogen fuel cell technology, has successfully run at 80 km/h on the Alstom test track in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony.

The run was part of a four-week test programme to establish the stability of the energy supply system based on coordinated interaction between the drive, the fuel cell and the battery of the vehicle. The braking power has also been tested to check the interface between the pneumatic and the electric brake.

Dynamic tests are also to be carried out at Velim in the Czech Republic, taking the train up to its maximum speed of 140 km/h. Following this, the iLint will progress to passenger test runs on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde– Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven route in 2018.

Using a hydrogen fuel cell to produce electrical power for traction, the Coradia iLint combines several new innovations: a clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and a smart management of the traction power and available energy.

So far, sixty trains have been ordered by the German states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and the Hessian transport association ‘Rhein-Main- Verkehrsverbund’.

Stadler initiates new Merseytravel depot construction
Merseytravel depotSwiss train manufacturer Stadler is to build a state-of-the-art train depot in Kirkdale and refurbish an existing depot at Birkenhead North, as part of £700m’s worth of contracts to manufacture and maintain a new fleet of 52 metro trains for the Liverpool city region.

The £20m construction and refurbishment contract has been awarded to BAM Nuttall, and supports a strategy to invest in the local supply chain. The company is also currently in talks with other UK suppliers.

The new Kirkdale facility will include washing and stabling facilities, a maintenance shed with run-through tracks, office space, and a simulator suite. The design includes the potential to extend the depot for 80-metre long trainsets.

The existing depot at Birkenhead North will be upgraded with a new washing facility so it will be possible to clean the trains on both the Wirral line and the Northern line.

The depot works are due to be completed in 2019, in time for the arrival of the new vehicles for testing.

New Intercity Express train completes maiden Wales test journey
Hitachi has successfully tested one of the new Intercity Express trains on the Great Western main line to Wales, ahead of bringing it into passenger service later this year. The train ran through the Severn Tunnel, Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend and Port Talbot and completed its journey at Hitachi’s purpose built train maintenance centre in Swansea.Ihntercity

From autumn 2017 the trains will connect Wales to London Paddington and major English cities such as Reading, Bristol, Bath and Swindon. Being bi-modal, the trains can switch from diesel and electric power, and will therefore be operable across the Great Western route while the current programme of electrification is progressively carried out.

The trains are being built at Hitachi’s manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, using Japanese bullet train technology.

Karen Boswell, managing director at Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “Our new intercity trains will bring rail travel in Wales firmly into the 21st century. These modern trains are being built in Britain using pioneering Japanese bullet train technology.”

The test programme will continue over the coming months.

Self-aware freight locos on the way
Europe’s largest rail freight company DB Cargo has awarded a contract to GE Transportation to digitise 250 of its locomotives across Germany, UK, France and Poland over the next five years.

The deal follows a three-month pilot of GE Transportation’s RailConnect™ 360 Asset Performance Management Solution which provided locomotive health status updates that increased efficiency and delivered a 25% reduction in service failures.

This is GE’s first European digital contract and is also the first time non-GE locomotives have been equipped with GE digital solutions. The partnership aims to create selfaware locomotives and digitise the entire rail operation value chain.

“The digital industrial future is here,” said GE Transportation CEO Jamie Miller. “With this performance-based contract for remote monitoring and diagnostics of non-GE locomotives, we are completely changing the business model. We are committed to helping engineers and rail operators, like DB Cargo, make the most of their assets by delivering game-changing productivity and efficiency gains.”

Fast tracking door innovation
Coventry-based Penso Group, which only recently entered the rail sector, has received a £2m funding package from the Rail Supply Growth Fund to fast track the innovation of new composite doors for trains, taking them from design concept to full production capability.

Penso’s lightweight composite train doors have been fully accredited by London Underground for use on its trains. They are not only significantly lighter in weight, but are also quicker to open and close.

Four generations of trains to run on the East Coast Main Line
A world first will take place in Yorkshire next month to celebrate the heritage and future of one of the country’s most iconic railway lines. Four trains spanning four generations are to travel side by side, in the same direction, along the East Coast Main Line on 23 April 2017.

This will be a unique opportunity to see the world famous Flying Scotsman travel alongside two trains from Virgin Trains’ revitalised fleet – an HST (Class 43), an intercity225 (Class 91) – and the rail operator’s brand new train, the Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which comes into service in 2018.

The historic journey, organised by Virgin Trains, Welcome to Yorkshire, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum, will begin near the village of Tollerton with the four trains travelling together for several miles north of York.

HST’s 40th Anniversary raises £43,000 for charity
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the High Speed Train, the Branch Line Society in conjunction with Virgin Trains East Coast, 125 Group and PLEG, chartered a special Inter-City 125 for an 800 mile excursion from London to Edinburgh and back on March 18, 2017. The day raised over £43,000 for the charity Railway Children, which supports children at risk on the streets in the UK, India and East Africa who run away from home or are forced to leave due to poverty, violence or neglect.

Those on board the nine-coach High Speed Train included its original designer Sir Kenneth Grange.

Dave Ellis, corporate partnerships manager at Railway Children, said: “The High Speed Train stands as testimony to the excellence of British Rail engineering and the genius of the industrial designer Kenneth Grange who created the aerodynamic front cab and nosecone of the Inter-City 125, giving the train its iconic shape.”

Train fleet growth is the fastest for decades
According to the rail industry’s fifth Long Term Passenger Rolling Stock Strategy, published in March, orders for rolling stock are at ‘an historically high level’ as the industry strives to meet increasing demand for services.

Around £10bn is already committed to contracts for over 6,000 new carriages, with delivery from April 2014 to March 2021. Half will be built in Britain. These are to replace 3,000 or more older vehicles, increasing the national fleet by around 20%.

Britain’s train fleet is forecast to grow by up to 89% over 30 years and its average age could fall from 21 years to 15 years by March 2021. The proportion of electricallypowered vehicles will rise from 71% now to more than 85% by 2034. The strategy estimates that 11,000 to 16,000 new electric vehicles will be needed by 2046, as well as up to 2,000 new vehicles able to operate beyond the electrified network.