Latest News | 17 February 2022

Rolls-Royce agreement will help drive rail decarbonisation

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Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement with a Derby-based rolling stock owner to identify and develop technological innovations to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality across the rail network.

The engineering and Porterbrook have signed a memorandum of understanding, which will see them investigate the potential for the use of synthetic and net zero fuels, including hydrogen, both in fuel cells and internal combustion engines.

Building on their recent success of jointly introducing hybrid battery-diesel railcars into passenger service, the two companies will also explore the potential for advanced hybridisation.

The relationship also includes considering the role of the wider rail ecosystem in decarbonisation, including fuel chain supply, infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation and the transition to net zero.

The UK’s railway accounts for approximately 1% of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions and the Government’s ambition is to remove all diesel-only trains – both passenger and freight – from the network by 2040 and achieve a net zero rail network by 2050.

The Government has identified a number of different routes to this target, including alternative forms of power such as hydrogen, fuel cells, batteries, hybrid-electric and sustainable fuels.

Warren East, chief executive at Rolls-Royce, said: “We have extensive experience of rail technology and are able to draw upon expertise from across our business in new net zero and zero emissions technologies for safety critical applications.

“We are committed to helping our customers make the transition to net zero by enabling them to use our current and future products in a way that is compatible with emissions reduction, and this relationship with Porterbrook will help us further understand the options for decarbonising rail transport.

“For us, playing a leading role in enabling the energy transition is both a societal imperative and a very significant commercial opportunity.”

Mary Grant, chief executive at Porterbrook, said: “We have been at the forefront of developing alternative traction systems for rolling stock over recent years, through our innovations and long-term asset management approach.

“Our partnership with Rolls-Royce will mean that we continue to lead the UK’s rail sector in sustainable solutions, by leveraging expertise across industries on the pathway to net zero.”

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