Icomera Connects 5G-Enabled HydroFLEX Train to COP26

Icomera are supporting Network Rail and Porterbrook in showcasing the ground-breaking HydroFLEX train at the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

Porterbrook has invested £7m in the HydroFLEX project, which involves the conversion of an existing Class 319 train, fitted with a hydrogen fuel cell, giving it the ability to run autonomously on hydrogen power on non-electrified routes. HydroFLEX is expected to play a key role in decarbonising the British railway network, by helping to replace diesel-only trains by 2040.

The build and delivery of HydroFLEX has been supported by the University of Birmingham and a range of businesses, many new to rail, which has successfully created the UK’s first hydrogen-rail supply chain, and delivered the project within less than a year.

HydroFLEX makes its first passenger journeys at COP26, showcasing to leaders and climate experts the possibilities offered by innovative British green technologies on the world stage. Alternative fuel trains of the future will play a vital part in building back better and greener from the pandemic.

A number of Icomera teams have been involved in different areas of the project:

Green Mobility

Icomera’s design and engineering division, DG8, has been responsible for the train’s mechanical and electrical installation design, including how best to integrate key components such as the hydrogen fuel tanks, fuel cell, cooling equipment and control equipment.

An Immersive Passenger Experience

The interior of the HydoFLEX train has been converted to include an ‘onboard boardroom’, giving invited guests the chance to work with the conference while travelling on the train. The interior design of the meeting space was also provided by DG8. A 5G Passenger Wi-Fi service will be available to those travelling, supported by the Icomera X5 mobile connectivity and applications gateway. Wi-Fi users are welcomed to the onboard digital experience via a portal developed by Icomera’s subsidiary, GoMedia.



The ability to work productively while travelling has long been seen as a driving force behind the shift to more environmentally sustainable forms of transport. Now, as the recent pandemic has accelerated the work from home transition, the availability of Wi-Fi on public transport will support flexible working hours and locations. There will be a shift in attitudes from viewing the office as a working space, to viewing it as a meeting space. If a passenger’s commute can contribute towards their working day, and not disrupt it, then public transport will be the obvious and most effective modal choice for those journeys, while also easing the congestion of traditional peak travel hours.

Peter Kingsland, Icomera’s SVP for the UK, said: “Working together, Icomera, DG8 and GoMedia, are designing, installing and supporting digital decarbonisation solutions for both new and retro-fitted rolling stock, addressing the needs of the contemporary passenger and the climate challenges of the next decade.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said:We are incredibly proud to work alongside some truly great British businesses, whose skills and expertise have helped us take HydroFLEX to COP26. This reflects a high level of collaboration across the private sector which in turn has been supported by our Network Rail and University of Birmingham partners. Seeing HydroFLEX in action in Glasgow will be a true milestone moment as we accelerate the rail industry’s journey towards Net Zero.

Image Credit for Featured Article Photo: Porterbrook