The State of California in the US has expanded its order of hydrogen FLIRT H2 trains with Stadler, adding another six rolling stock to the agreement first signed in October 2023. 

The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and the state’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) will now receive at least 10 hydrogen-powered trains from the rolling stock manufacturer as part of a push towards decarbonising its rail network. 

Toks Omishakin, the state’s transportation secretary, said: “California continues to lead the way to a cleaner, more connected transportation system. 

“By expanding our fleet of hydrogen-powered passenger trainsets, we are showing we are serious about deploying innovative and sustainable transportation options for the people of this state.” 

The first trains from the order are expected to enter operations in 2027 and will be used on the future Valley Rail service between Merced and Sacramento, an expansion of the Altamont Corridor Express and Amtrak San Joaquins. 

Stadler has based the new model, its first hydrogen passenger train, on its existing Fast Light Intercity and Regional Trains (FLIRT) and uses a modular power pack containing hydrogen fuel cells powering an electric drive. 

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The train has already been tested in Stadler’s home country of Switzerland and in the US and was displayed at the APTA Expo in Florida in October alongside the San Bernardino Country Transportation Authority which is hoping to introduce the trains to California on its Metrolink services in late 2024. 

Ansgar Brockmeyer, executive vice president of marketing and sales at Stadler, said: “Given the limited electrification of rail lines in the U.S., the FLIRT H2 proves to be particularly significant. Hydrogen technology enables sustainable mobility as it is an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional drives. 

“Stadler is thus actively pursuing the goal of modernizing public transport in North America and making a contribution to environmental protection in the process.” 

Funding for California’s order, which exercises some of the 25 options included in the original October order, comes from the $407m granted to CalSTA through Governor Gavin Newsom’s $10bn zero-emission vehicle package revealed in 2022.