To meet the demands of growing urban populations, governments around the world are prioritizing investments in public transit infrastructure, including light rail and regional express rail service. Light rail transit vehicles and regional express trains can move large numbers of people efficiently, and often function as the backbone of urban transportation systems.
To make rail an emissions-free mode of transportation, commuter trains can be powered electrically, through direct contact with overhead, high-voltage lines. However, building the infrastructure to support extensive overhead power lines can be very expensive, and can delay or forestall the development of electrified rail service.
But an alternative approach to electric train design could resolve the challenge. It involves the use of hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity onboard a train, providing power for propulsion and other critical systems. The application of hydrogen fuel cell technology to railway electrification is informally called, “Hydrail”.