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East West Rail ‘perfect place’ for hydrogen trains

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Hydrogen trains are being considered for the East West Rail line connecting Oxford and Cambridge, it has been revealed.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the line will not be electrified as he is hoping it can facilitate hydrogen or battery-powered trains instead.

Last month, East West Railway Company strategy director Will Gallagher vowed to have trains running on the line by 2023.

Speaking at the Railway Industry Association annual conference, Grayling confirmed that the line is not going to be electrified as he hopes it will facilitate emerging technologies.

“We are not going to be electrifying that line,” Grayling said. “Why wouldn’t we have hydrogen trains or battery trains on that line?”

“It is a commuter line and it is the perfect place for these new technologies. I think it is going to be a fantastic project and can lead the way in terms of implementing new trains.”

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East West Rail

The first phase of the project, between Oxford and Bicester, was completed in December 2016. A central section, Phase 3, is currently in development and will fully reconnect Cambridge to Oxford.

England’s Economic Heartland’s programme director Martin Tugwell said that the conglomerate of local councils and businesses supports the transport secretary’s calls for hydrogen trains.

“We would support any initiative which has a positive impact on our environment, with hydrogen trains being one longer-term opportunity to do this,” he said. “We’d be keen to work with government to explore this, particularly if it was the catalyst for establishing hydrogen infrastructure more generally.

“East West Rail will already contribute to reducing the number of cars on our roads, while we are also keen to maximise its potential to move more freight onto rail – another environmental win.” 

Connections between the two university cities are also set to be improved via an expressway which will run alongside the rail line. 

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