Arcola Energy boss Dr Ben Todd (left) and Scotland’s transport secretary Michael Matheson with the electric train that will be converted to run on hydrogen. Photograph: courtesy Arcola Energy

An energy firm based in Hackney is heading up a project to create Scotland’s first hydrogen-powered train by November this year, with the country’s transport bosses hoping it will set them on the right track for an emissions-free rail system by 2035.

Arcola Energy, headquartered in Dalston at the same address as its sister theatre company, is a specialist in hydrogen fuel cell integration – that is, turning the technology into a practical product.

Its patented A-Drive platform, unveiled last year, offers a drop-in zero-emissions replacement for diesel-based powertrains and is scalable for a range of heavy-duty vehicles.

It is this platform that the company will adapt from a planned base in Dundee to power the train, and that will allow the consortium, which includes engineering and safety consultancy firms Arup and Abbott Risk along with Aegis Certfication Services, to deliver the project in just 10 months.

Arcola Energy’s CEO Dr Ben Todd said: “Hydrogen traction power offers a safe, reliable and zero-carbon alternative for Scotland’s rail network.

“The hydrogen train project is an excellent opportunity for industry leaders in hydrogen, rail engineering and safety to collaborate with Scottish technology providers to develop a deployment-ready solution.

“We are delighted to be working with Scottish Enterprise, Transport Scotland and the Hydrogen Accelerator, to support Scotland’s strategy to make passenger railways emission free by 2035.”

Based at the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, the consortium will convert a Class 314 car passenger train, provided by ScotRail, to run on hydrogen.

The train will then be made available to Scottish technology experts and academics as the country explores opportunities for its low carbon strategy.

Scotland’s transport secretary Michael Matheson added: “This project has the potential to be a game-changer for the future of Scotland’s rail rolling stock.

“Our Rail Decarbonisation Action Plan sets out to make our passenger railways emissions free by 2035, but to maximise our climate change ambitions, there is also a requirement to look at what we do with retired stock. If we can bring those back into use in a carbon neutral way, there are huge climate gains to be made.”

Arcola Energy and its project partners will demonstrate the hydrogen-powered train during this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Glasgow from 1-12 November.

For more information on Arcola Energy’s work , head to arcolaenergy.com

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