Interview with Alex Burrows, Founder and CSO at Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions

Interview with Alex Burrows, Founder and CSO at Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions

​​​​​​Could you tell us more about what differentiates Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutons from everyone else?

Alex: Vanguard was founded in 2020 by the team responsible for the HydroFLEX (the UK’s 1st mainline-approved passenger-carrying hydrogen train) projects at the University of Birmingham. Set up with the original aim of commercialising the learnings from the HydroFLEX projects, we quickly expanded our offering to cover all aspects of the application of hydrogen technologies across the entire rail industry. Our core offering can be seen as three distinct areas – engineering consultancy (covering everything from initial feasibility studies through to full system concept design), hydrogen train design (drivetrain design and conversion for passenger units and locomotives) and operational support and logistics (fuel supply, fuel management, operational efficiency).  

Recent highlights for us have included supporting HydroFLEX at the United Nations COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, which was inspected by Prince Charles (now King Charles III), and also winning a major European innovation award last year.  


Could you elaborate more on the most important projects you did and are currently working on?

Alex: With hydrogen in rail being such a fast-paced sector, every one of our projects is different and brings new challenges to our team. To date, we’ve worked across the globe with universities and research organisations, major rail operators and rolling stock manufacturers alongside supporting our internal projects. The demand for our services is international and to support this our team are regularly attending trade shows across Europe and further afield including Spain, France, Germany, Serbia, Turkey. We’re looking forwards to returning to Serbia soon to visit SEE Mobility – please come to Hotel Jugoslavija and visit us on our stand if you’re attending!   


Could you share more about the importance of the rail sector in Serbia for Vanguard?


Alex: The rail sector in Serbia and the wider region represents a really exciting opportunity for Vanguard. One of our Co-Founders is a longstanding friend of the Rail Cluster for South East Europe and has built links with the regional industry through the establishment of the South East Europe Rail Research and Innovation Network. We have demonstrated that railways can be decarbonised quickly and our hydrogen and battery solution enables old diesel trains to be retrofitted with clean, modern technology in a cost-effective manner. The Serbian railway is modernising and investing in the renewal of its network and we are keen to support that by offering the means of modernising and decarbonising the railway rolling stock in an efficient and affordable manner.


Finally, could you tell us about the forthcoming period and what can we expect from Vanguard?

Alex: The next few months will see Vanguard releasing a new hydrogen-powered shunter locomotive into service at a leading UK preserved railway, along with ongoing development of several other projects and solutions.  We are hoping that several projects in Serbia and Croatia will be launched that will enable us to grow our business in Serbia and the wider region and to play a leading role in supporting the development and modernisation of railways across the Balkans over the coming years.