Hydrogen-Powered GO Trains Could be Coming to Mississauga

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If you take the GO, or you are all about eco-friendly developments in the world of transit, you’ll be intrigued to know that the province wants to eliminate conventional overhead wires for trains and, instead, incorporate hydrogen-powered GO trains into the system.

We’ve known for some time now that Ontario is moving forward on electrifying the GO rail network to improve service, ultimately the transit system faster and more frequent.

Now, as part of the electrification process, the province says it is “undertaking a feasibility study on the use of hydrogen fuel cells.”

Basically, the province is seeking design concepts for Hydrogen-powered trains to implement within the GO network as an alternative to conventional overhead wires.

The Hydrogen Rail - coined Hydrail by the province - Feasibility Study will inform a decision on how Ontario will proceed with the electrification of GO rail services.

Hydrogen-powered electric trains are considered a clean electric technology. According to the province, there have been recent advanced in the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electric trains in other jurisdictions.

In terms of next steps, the province says that “a number of rail vehicle manufacturers will be commissioned to prepare designs and to demonstrate the impact that incorporating hydrogen fuel cells into bi-level trains would have on the performance of the GO rail network.”

Whether or not you have been keeping up with GO Regional Express Rail (RER) updates, the GO RER will bring more two-way, all-day service to commuters and families across the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area, increasing the number of weekly trips from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025. It’s the largest commuter rail project in Canada.

The RER is definitely a huge step forward in provincial transit, and Ontario is injecting $21.3 billion to transform GO Transit from a just commuter transit service into a regional rapid transit system.

For now, the province has officially put out a Request for Proposals for concept designs on how a hydrogen fuel cell system might be incorporated into a Bi-level Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train.

“An EMU train is an electric-powered train consisting of multiple self-propelled carriages linked together. An EMU does not require a separate locomotive, as electric motors are incorporated in each carriage,” explained the province.

EMUs are currently in service on the Heathrow Flyer in the UK, the AGV in France and the TTC’s Toronto Rocket subway trains.

The Hydrail Feasibility Study is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2017, with a decision on electrification technology to follow.

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