Caltrans Expands Hydrogen-Powered Rail Fleet - Smart Energy Decisions

Industrial, Sourcing Renewables  -  February 16, 2024

Caltrans Expands Hydrogen-Powered Rail Fleet

Caltrans announced a $127 million agreement for six more zero-emission, hydrogen-powered passenger train sets, building upon a previous order to deliver the first four hydrogen-powered intercity train sets.

The agreement was signed with Stadler Rail, Inc. 

The trains will help strengthen the state’s zero-emission passenger rail capabilities. The first trains are expected to enter service in 2027. The train set design will make them more efficient, lighter weight and more affordable than traditional locomotive-hauled coaches. 

The purchase is funded through California Governor Gavin Newsom’s $10 billion, multiyear zero-emission vehicle package, which included $407 million for the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) to purchase or lease state-of-the-art clean bus and rail equipment and infrastructure.

“These clean-energy trains are the future. California is building a climate-resilient transportation system that will help every community move around the state in a safe and sustainable way,” said Tony Tavares, Caltrans' Director, in a statement.

The vehicles will be based on Stadler’s successful Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train (FLIRT) concept, extending work done with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to develop self-powered multiple-unit trains using zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells without the need of a separate locomotive.  

Caltrans’ purchase of the first four trainsets in October occurred one day before the U.S. Department of Energy announced California will receive up to $1.2 billion as one of the country’s hydrogen hubs to accelerate the development and deployment of clean renewable hydrogen.

Tags: Caltrans

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