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Ontario Taking Next Steps in Testing Hydrogen-Powered Train Technology

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Ontario Taking Next Steps in Testing Hydrogen-Powered Train Technology

Province Transforming GO Transit to Provide Faster and More Frequent Service

Ministry of Transportation

Ontario is taking the next steps in exploring the potential of hydrail as an alternative to conventional electric trains, as Ontario transforms the GO network into a rapid-transit system that will provide faster and more frequent service for commuters and families.

Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Transportation, was in Toronto today to release the province's Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study, which found that it would be feasible to build and operate electrified rail service on GO Transit and the UP Express using hydrogen-powered trains at a cost comparable to conventional electrification using overhead wires.

Ontario is engaging with train manufacturers Alstom and Siemens to produce concept designs that incorporate hydrogen fuel cells into bi-level trains similar to those currently used by GO Transit. In addition, the province is issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for designs for a hydrogen fuel cell-powered locomotive, which could lead to a prototype rail vehicle that would be tested on the GO rail network.

Electrifying the GO rail network is part of the largest rail project in Canada as Ontario transforms GO from a commuter transit system to a regional rapid transit system. Weekly trips across the entire GO rail network will grow from about 1,500 to nearly 6,000 by 2025, with more two-way, all-day and 15-minute service for commuters and families across the region.

Investing in sustainable, innovative public transit is part of Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is investing $21.3 billion to transform GO Transit from a commuter transit service to a regional rapid transit system.
  • Hydrogen fuel cells can be used to power trains by replacing diesel engines in locomotives with clean fuel cell technology.
  • Hydrogen-powered trains can provide electrified rail services without the need for overhead catenary wires.
  • Unlike conventional electric trains, which draw power from the electrical grid while operating, hydrogen can be produced off-peak using renewable energy and stored for future use at a cost comparable to conventional electric rail systems.
  • Since 2013, Ontario has built three new GO stations, renovated 10 existing GO stations, and added approximately 7,000 new GO station parking spots. The province has also purchased 264 new GO buses, 150 new GO train coaches, and 10 new GO train locomotives.
  • Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in hospitals, schools, public transit, roads and bridges in the province's history. To learn more about what's happening in your community, go to Ontario.ca/BuildON.

Additional Resources

Quotes

“The potential benefit of hydrogen fuel cells compared to overhead wires makes exploring hydrogen rail technology worthwhile. Our government is taking the next step in assessing how this important technology could work for our own transit system.”

Kathryn McGarry

Minister of Transportation

“Our Hydrogen Feasibility Study and Hydrail Symposium have shown that it is worthwhile to take a more in-depth look at using hydrogen fuel cell powered rail vehicles to electrify the GO Transit network. The opportunity to further examine the scope, costs, benefits and risks of this technology is something my team and I are looking forward to in the coming months. We want to make sure we are making the best decision for Ontario communities.”

Phil Verster

President and Chief Executive Officer, Metrolinx

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