California signs with Stadler for America’s first hydrogen trains

Visual of the Stadler hydrogen train on the coast of California Caltrans

The State of California and Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of hydrogen trains this Thursday. Under the contract worth 80 million US dollars (approximately 75 million euros), Stadler will provide the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and Caltrans with four hydrogen fuel cell trains, with an option to acquire up to 25 additional train sets.

While the base order of four trains is expected to primarily operate between Merced and Sacramento on the expanded San Joaquin and Altamont Corridor Express Valley Rail services, the trains will also be demonstrated on corridors throughout the state in coordination with intercity and regional rail partners. The delivery date of the vehicles has not been announced.

A partnership between Stadler and the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) paved the way for the creation of the very first hydrogen-powered train in North America. The train, based on Stadler’s Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train (FLIRT) concept was unveiled at InnoTrans 2022. The hydrogen train has undergone extensive testing in both Switzerland and the USA to affirm its performance and reliability.

“Stadler’s goal is to help make travel in North America environmentally-friendly through the vehicles and services we provide. Only very few rail lines in the US are electrified, which is why solutions like the FLIRT H2 are so important here”, says Ansgar Brockmeyer, EVP of Marketing and Sales at Stadler.

California state funding

The investment in more sustainable rolling stock will help California meet its ambitious zero-emission rail mandate. The purchase is funded through Governor Gavin Newsom’s 10 billion dollar, multiyear zero-emission vehicle package, which included 407 million for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) to demonstrate and purchase or lease clean bus and rail equipment and infrastructure.

In April, Governor Newsom announced more than 690 million dollars for public transportation projects that will result in the purchase of 277 new zero-emission vehicles statewide and the development of several high-priority mobility hubs and rail projects. “California is using our transportation dollars to fund innovation solutions like these zero-emission, hydrogen passenger trains to significantly reduce planet-warming pollution and combat and adapt to climate change ― while providing travelers an alternative to driving”, says Tony Tavares, Caltrans Director.

California Transportation Secretary Toks Omishakin emphasises that California is “once again leading the country in delivering innovative clean transportation options that benefit people and the planet”. “These state-of-the-art hydrogen train sets will demonstrate the capability of an emerging technology and will complement our future electrified high-speed rail line for an expanded clean rail network.”

The components of the Stadler hydrogen fuel cell train
The components of the Stadler hydrogen fuel cell train

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor

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