I M Kelly R & A is one of almost 30 UK based businesses that have worked together to deliver Britain’s first hydrogen-powered train which will be showcased by Porterbrook, in partnership with Network Rail, at November’s UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.

Porterbrook has invested £7m in the HydroFLEX, which will demonstrate how green-hydrogen and innovative-engineering can accelerate delivery of environmental benefits to passengers and the communities the railway serves.

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.

I M Kelly R & A has been proud to work with Porterbrook as part of the supply chain team that has delivered HydroFLEX within less than a year.

As part of the project, I M Kelly R & A worked closely with Porterbrook and the nominated design house, to transform the interiors of the existing vehicles into a modern clean interior with conference facilities.

This cross-industry collaboration will see the ground-breaking HydroFLEX make its first passenger journeys at COP26, to showcase the possibility of leading British green technology on the world stage.

The HydroFLEX train at COP26 includes an ‘on-board boardroom’, giving invited special guests the chance to use the train to support the globally significant discussions that will take place in and around the COP.

I M Kelly R & A was critical in refurbishing the passenger seats to include modern styling, using lamination techniques transferred over from their expertise in the aerospace sector.  The seat covers were manufactured from a sustainable leather alternative increasing recycled content, lowering carbon emissions, and reducing the use of the earth’s scarce resources.    I M Kelly R & A also manufactured the two large board room tables to transform one of the carriages into a high spec conference area seating up to 18 VIP guests.

Sofa seats were manufactured for another area of the vehicle to allow for a comfortable and more relaxed meeting environment.

Keith Griffiths, Sales Director of I M Kelly R & A said:

 “We are extremely privileged to have worked with Porterbrook on this highly prestigious project that will make a real difference to the future of sustainable transport.”

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.”


PR enquiries can be directed to:

I M Kelly R & A Ltd

Keith Griffiths, Sales Director

kgriffiths@imkra.co.uk or +44 (0)2476 644026

Porterbrook Leasing

Rupert Brennan Brown, Director of Stakeholder Engagement

Rupert@porterbrook.co.uk or +44 (0)7973 950 923


About I M Kelly R & A

  • IMK Group was established in 1975 and building on its center of excellence for automotive interior trim in the United Kingdom later expanded into the Aerospace, Rail and Leisure sectors.
  • Within the group, I M Kelly R & A has become the focus for these new sectors, working with natural high-quality leather, technical fabrics and manmade material, providing interior trimmed components throughout the Aerospace, Rail and Leisure sectors. Products are supplied for use right through the range of standard, business, and first-class environments.
  • Over recent years I M Kelly R & A have invested heavily into new technology and manufacturing processes, with the ability to provide specialist interior products and innovative solutions, leading to the highest quality products meeting the demanding environments of the customer.
  • Flexibility is a key strength at I M Kelly R & A. Focused on being both lean and agile, adapting to customers’ requirements, whether that be volume production or small volume high complex products to meet the technical specifications of the customer.

About Porterbrook

  • Porterbrook owns almost a quarter of the national passenger rail fleet and currently has around 4,000 vehicles on lease or on order. To date, Porterbrook has invested £3bn in new passenger and freight vehicles and are actively looking to invest a further £1bn in UK rail in the coming years.
  • Porterbrook has an established reputation for delivering new technologies, such as battery, hybrid and hydrogen powered trains. These innovations support the government’s commitment to Net Zero by 2050 ambitions, improve air quality, reduce emissions, and enhance network resilience.
  • In 2020 Porterbrook introduced HydroFLEX, the UK’s first hydrogen-powered train, in partnership with the University of Birmingham. A fully productionised version of this innovative train will be showcased at Glasgow in November during COP26.
  • In collaboration with industry partners, Porterbrook also project manage the delivery of regular upgrades to their rolling stock fleets. Each year Porterbrook invest over £150m in our existing assets, supporting nearly 100 UK-based companies and supporting c.7,000 jobs.

About HydroFLEX

  • HydroFLEX is the world’s first train retrofitted to operate under hydrogen power and the first hydrogen-powered train on Britain’s railway. It is capable of drawing power from overhead wires and where these don’t exist, operating in self-powered mode using hydrogen, fuel cells and batteries.
  • HydroFLEX is the result of a ground-breaking collaboration between Porterbrook and the University of Birmingham.
  • HydroFLEX represents a £7m private sector investment by Porterbrook in a zero-emission alternative to diesel powered trains.
  • By retaining the capability of using overhead wires as a power source, HydroFLEX can extend the electrified railway to non-electrified routes but without the need for costly and disruptive infrastructure
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