Best-selling children’s authors on board to explore low-carbon train technology at COP26: MGLeonard&SamSedgman APPROVED AUTHOR PHOTO3 credit Jamie Isbell

Friday 29 Oct 2021

Best-selling children’s authors on board to explore low-carbon train technology at COP26

Region & Route:
| Scotland’s Railway: Scotland
  • Network Rail teams up with best-selling Adventures on Trains authors M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman to inspire the next generation aboard a Porterbrook hybrid train – the HydroFLEX.
  • Primary schoolchildren from Glasgow will join the authors, along with engineers from Network Rail and Porterbrook, for a fun-packed literary journey where they can learn about the secrets of storytelling and how technology is powering rail’s green revolution in Britain.
  • The event will mark Transport Day at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, on Wednesday, 10 November.

The authors of the award-winning Adventures on Trains series will lead an event on board Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX train with a group of schoolchildren who took part in a recent competition organised by Scotland’s Railway. The competition asked children from primary schools in Scotland to find creative ways to encourage people to live a bit greener and travel by train.

Maya and Sam’s fifth book, titled Sabotage on the Solar Express, will be released in February next year, featuring a train of the future powered by solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells.

Just like the train in the next book, the Porterbrook HydroFLEX is a hybrid train – that can be powered by hydrogen fuel cells and the overhead electric wires.

Whilst on board, the children will have a reading of the pair’s most recently published book, Danger at Dead Man’s Pass, and take part in an imaginative activity that gets them thinking about the joy of train travel and how we can make trains greener in the future. Engineers from Network Rail and Porterbrook will also discuss ideas for the future of green train technology with the children. 

M.G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, the authors of Adventures on Trains, said:

“We’re delighted to have been able to play a part in COP26 by bringing our books onto the HydroFLEX train with the children. Trains are already the greenest form of public transport and the kids really understand that the key to a greener future is getting people out of cars and onto trains – and finding innovative new ways to make trains even greener. We hope that our books and this trip will really unlock their imaginations and perhaps even inspire some green rail engineers of the future!”

Martin Frobisher OBE, safety and engineering director for Network Rail, said:

“It’s a privilege to welcome Maya and Sam on board the HydroFLEX, along with the children who took part in the competition who have really blown us away their enthusiasm for getting people out of cars and on to trains. Rail is a proven green technology and stands ready to help governments reach their ambitious net zero goals. With further electrification and alternative fuels we can make rail even greener than it already is.

“COP26 and these wonderful books are a great opportunity to really engage with the next generation and promote our commitment to running an even cleaner, greener railway that will help tackle climate change.”

Mary Grant, Chief Executive of Porterbrook said:

“We’re so pleased to welcome Maya, Sam and the children aboard our HydroFLEX. This train is the first of its kind – just like the Solar Express in Maya and Sam’s book. We’re privileged to play our part in showing pupils that dreaming big and using your imagination is absolutely essential to delivering today’s railway!”

Last year, Network Rail became the first railway company in the world to commit to the most stretching science-based targets for reducing carbon. A key part of the strategy for achieving those targets is decarbonising traction energy through further overhead line electrification and using alternative fuels, including hydrogen and battery-powered trains.  


Notes to Editors

Porterbrook’s HydroFLEX train is featuring in a fringe event at COP26, which gives guests, including leaders and climate experts, a first-hand experience of British technological innovation and expertise and how alternative fuel trains of the future will play a vital part in building back better and greener from the pandemic.  

The Adventures on Trains series of best-selling children’s books that follow the crime-solving adventures of Harrison Beck (Hal) and his Uncle Nat on board some of the world’s most iconic train services.

There are four books in the series so far: The Highland Falcon Thief, Kidnap on the California Comet, Murder on the Safari Star and Danger at Dead Man’s Pass. Each features real-life railway facts re-imagined within a fun crime story for kids. Sabotage on the Solar Express is the fifth book in the series and will be published in February 2022.

The children aboard took part in a competition organised by Scotland’s Railway encouraging children to find fun ways of encouraging people to travel by train. Some of the entries can be seen here:

Event info:

  • This event, hosted by Network Rail, Macmillan and Porterbrook, will take place on COP26 Transport Day – Wednesday November 10th
  • The authors will be available for interview on Wednesday 10 November – on board the train (13:50-14:24) and at Glasgow Central Station. They are also in Edinburgh on Thursday 11 November.
  • To register interest in attending or for further info, contact James Crook on 07732 644202
  • Maya and Sam are travelling to and from COP26 on the train, cutting their emissions by around 83% compared to flying up to COP26 (based on flights from London Gatwick to Glasgow

Contact information

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Network Rail press office - James Crook
Senior Media Relations Manager
Network Rail
07732 644202

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