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Hydrogen traction goes to California

March 2022

Hydrogen traction goes to California
Photo: Stadler

Stadler is developing and building the first hydrogen-powered train for passenger transport in the USA, ordered by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA). At InnoTrans 2022, Stadler will present the FLIRT H2 to the international public.

Of all transport modes, rail is the most sustainable mobility solution. Shifting the transport of people and goods to rail plays a crucial role in the fight against climate change. Electric trains and locomotives are the most sustainable. In many countries, however, railway networks are only partially electrified or not electrified at all. In the USA, for instance, less than one percent of the rail network is equipped with electric overhead lines. Electrification of the infrastructure is complex and costly. In order to make rail transport more sustainable in these countries, there is thus a need for alternative traction solutions. This is why the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) wants to convert its passenger transport in Southern California to zero-emission technology. The American rail operator continues to rely on FLIRT low-floor multiple units from Stadler Rail Group, Bussnang, Switzerland. To date, these trains have been operated with diesel propulsion (DMU). In November 2019, SBCTA contracted Stadler to develop and build the first hydrogen-powered FLIRT.

FLIRT H2 will start operating for Arrow in 2024

The order will make a significant contribution to providing the US with zero-emission rail technology. The new FLIRT H2 is the first hydrogen-powered passenger train in the US and across the entire American continent. It is scheduled to be in passenger service for Arrow from 2024. Arrow is a 14-kilometre link between Redlands and San Bernardino’s Metrolink station.

A whole day’s cruising range

The first FLIRT H2 features two car bodies and a central section for the fuel cells and hydrogen tanks, the so-called PowerPack. Stadler has developed a propulsion technology which allows the FLIRT H2 to operate for a whole day without having to be refuelled. The train offers seating for 108 passengers as well as generous standing room. The maximum speed is 130 kilometres per hour. The vehicle is also designed to operate in demanding ambient temperatures of up to 49 degrees centigrade.

Stadler will present the FLIRT H2 to the public at InnoTrans 2022 in Berlin. From the Arctic Circle to Africa, the Swiss company has sold more than 2,000 FLIRT trains to date. In addition to trains with purely electric, diesel or mixed drive, Stadler also offers these low-floor multiple units with alternative drive solutions such as batteries and hydrogen. In Germany, for example, Stadler delivered 55 FLIRT Akku battery-powered trains to the local transport association Schleswig-Holstein NAH.SH and 44 FLIRT Akku units to DB Regio.