Utah State University, ASPIRE and Stadler to test battery train in North America

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Utah State University (USU), the ASPIRE Engineering Research Center and Stadler have signed an agreement to develop and test a battery-powered passenger train, based on Stadler’s FLIRT concept, bringing the first battery-powered multiple-unit train to North America.

The aim of the project is to develop, construct and test a battery-powered two-car multiple-unit train based on the FLIRT Akku. The FLIRT battery from Stadler is a single-story, lightweight multiple unit for regional transport. With its battery drive, it enables CO2-emission-free rail transport on non-electrified lines.

Stadler has already sold over 110 FLIRT batteries. In Germany, for example, the battery trains have replaced diesel fleets in Schleswig-Holstein, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

In cooperation with ASPIRE, Stadler is now developing a FLIRT battery tailored to the American market. This requires extensive research and development work to adapt the vehicle to the American infrastructure and national regulations.

While Stadler is concentrating on the design and production of the train, ASPIRE is working on the development of the trackside charging infrastructure for the vehicle. Through the subsequent extensive test drives, ASPIRE, USU and Stadler hope to gain important insights for the decarbonization of American passenger transport using battery-powered trains.

“We are honored to be working with Stadler on this innovative project,” said Dr Regan Zane, director of the NSF ASPIRE Engineering Research Center. “The success will bring design and manufacturing jobs to Utah. It will also point the way to electrified mass transit and light rail systems along the Wasatch Front. The battery-electric train solution will improve air quality and reduce operating costs while supporting a shared charging infrastructure with trucks, buses, and cars.”

Martin Ritter, CEO of Stadler US, added: “With few to no electrified lines on public rail in North America, a battery train is a great zero-emission alternative to diesel-powered vehicles. Following an order for a hydrogen-powered FLIRT for California, we are excited to bring our battery solution to the United States. With ASPIRE, we have found an excellent partner to develop the most efficient and fully integrated system for environmentally friendly mobility. We are proud to be able to work with local talent to develop and build this technology here in Utah.”

“The Utah legislature is committed to developing strong public-private partnerships like this that lead to innovative solutions to critical problems in our state. We are thrilled to be a partner in this project and look forward to its success,” concluded Mike Schultz, majority leader in the Utah House of Representatives.

The FLIRT battery is the battery-powered version of the FLIRT series from Stadler. The operational range of the vehicle is around 100km. With 224km driven in pure battery operation, the FLIRT battery holds the world record for the longest journey of a regional train in pure battery mode without additional charge. In addition to the all-electric and battery-electric versions, Stadler also offers the FLIRT with hydrogen. For example, Stadler is developing the first FLIRT with hydrogen drive for the American San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA).