Ontario Hosts International Symposium on Hydrogen-Powered Rail

Hydrogen fuel cells in trains

Province Moving Forward with Concept Design Work for Hydrogen-Powered Trains

The province is moving forward with concept design work for hydrogen-powered trains and is hosting experts from around the world to explore the potential of hydrail, as Ontario transforms the GO network into a rapid-transit system that will provide faster and more frequent service for commuters and families.

Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation, delivered a keynote address today to more than 200 industry leaders and international experts in the fuel cell technology and transportation sectors, who are at the Hydrail in Ontario symposium to examine the potential application of hydrogen fuel cell technology to electrify the GO rail network.

The province is also moving forward with concept design work and has now closed a request for proposals to show how a hydrogen fuel cell system could be integrated into a bi-level GO train.

Recent advances in the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electric trains in other jurisdictions makes it important that Ontario consider this clean electric technology as an alternative to conventional overhead wires. The Hydrogen Rail (Hydrail) Feasibility Study will help to inform whether hydrogen power can play a role in Ontario’s ongoing work to electrify GO rail.

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.

Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change 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.
  • Since 2015, GO Transit service enhancements and station improvements include the new West Harbour GO Station, new midday service between Brampton and Toronto, the new Gormley GO Station, Barrie weekend service, new all-day Stouffville weekday service, and the new Oshawa GO Station.
  • The Hydrail Feasibility Study is anticipated to be complete by the end of 2017, with a decision on electrification technology to follow.
  • Request for Proposals closed on Nov. 9 seeking concept design work to show how a hydrogen fuel cell system could be integrated 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. Examples of EMUs currently in service include the Heathrow Flyer in the UK, the AGV in France and the TTC’s Toronto Rocket subway trains.

Additional Resources


Steven Del Duca

“The key learnings from today’s symposium will help to inform Ontario’s decision on whether or not to move ahead with hydrail to electrify the GO rail network. This decision will impact the future of public transit in Ontario for generations, so it is critical that we get it right. I thank all the attendees today for their time and their contributions to the progress of the Hydrail Feasibility Study.”

Steven Del Duca

Minister of Transportation

“Today was all about bringing experts together from around the world to discuss the use of hydrogen technology in transportation and how it is being applied to rail systems. This work will inform how we bring faster and cleaner electric GO rail service to our customers in the coming years.”

Phil Verster

President and CEO, Metrolinx

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